Rohit Sharma has played 36 T20 Internationals and averages 28 without a single century to his credit. That isn’t much in a team where most Indian batsman average 30+. He hasn’t done much to cement a permanent place in the T20 team.
From 2007-12, Rohit played a whopping 86 ODI matches, barely averaging 30 (Both MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli average around 50) with a low strike rate of 78 and just one measly century against a Top 8 team. That’s also not enough for a permanent place.
Once former India coach Greg Chappell had said that all youngsters should be given at least 30 ODIs before being discarded for good. That was almost 30 ODIs three times over for Rohit.
Yuvraj Singh has hit more runs than that in 3 balls.
It is safe to say that had Rohit (who was increasingly gaining nicknames like “No-hit Sharma” at that stage) been retired at the end of 2012, then no-one would have been able to say anything.
His performance was marginally better in the IPL where he would dazzle in flashes, but till 2012, he was never in the Top 5 batsman of the tournament, let alone being the Orange Cap winner in any season. That’s why Deccan Chargers let go of him and he joined the Mumbai Indians.
But with a First Class average of 60 and the talent that all the commentators claimed he had coupled with the endless chances that he had been given, he was on the verge of being a colossal failure.
Then 2013 happened.
Captain MS Dhoni threw Rohit a lifeline by making him an ODI opener at the very beginning of the year. It seemed a strange move at that time, but in that position, Rohit has scored 774 runs at an average of 48 with one century and five half-centuries!
In his very first match in his new role, Rohit hit 83 versus England in Mohali. He had arrived as an ODI opener. Then in the ICC Champions Trophy he was India’s No. 2 run getter and played an integral role in our victory.
Rohit has become much more consistent off late and in the second ODI versus Australia in the current series, he helped us chase an Indian record victory target of 360 with a fine 141 off 123 balls. Virat Kohli scored the fastest century ever by an Indian, but Rohit walked away with the man of the match award.
Looks like Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have retired as ODI openers and who would have thought Rohit would have a hand in that!
Rohit’s dream run continued in the IPL.
He was made captain of Mumbai Indians and far from wilting under pressure, he gave his best performance as an IPL batsman. In the 2013 edition he belted 538 runs at an average of 38.
He not only won the IPL, but ended up winning the Champions League too. How’s that for leadership skills?
His lowest score in the Champions League was 20, such has been his overall consistency this year.
2013 has been Rohit’s best year as ODI and IPL batsman and he has the added honour of Mumbai Indians’ captaincy.
It appears to be a matter of time before Rohit enters the Test team. He has been in the squad without playing a single match, but with so many retirements in the last 1-2 years, it’s just a matter of time.
Till 2012, both Sir Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit were the butt of jokes all over the social networking sites and one must say that the year has turned it around for both of them.
Jadeja has emerged as a fine all-rounder and became the ICC No. 1 ODI bowler.
Rohit on the other hand emulated MS Dhoni in winning the IPL and Champions League in the same year and has formed a match-winning ODI opening pair with the explosive Shikhar Dhawan.
What next? Filling Sachin’s slot in the Test team after the latter’s retirement?
With the luck Rohit is riding on, anything is possible!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/