Rohit Sharma: The flashes of brilliance have to give way to match-winning innings of substance

Rohit Sharma has to put a very high price on his wicket if his cameos have to give way to match-winning innings of substance © AFP

By Sarang Bhalerao

An article about Rohit Sharma almost unfailingly has mentions of his precocious talent and the inexplicable yo-yo swings of his cricketing career. For someone who is so incredibly and unquestionably blessed with a divine sense of timing, his track record is truly bewildering. Rohit has a rare gift of spotting the ball a fraction of a second earlier than most other batsmen. As a young apprentice, his temperament was considered solid.

Everyone who saw him bat touted him to be the next big thing. Some even hailed him as the next Sachin Tendulkar  — never an easy burden to carry. Nevertheless young Rohit blossomed at the international level. Being a Mumbaikar, the khadoos attitude was intrinsic in his DNA. The beginning was a fairytale. India won their first ever One-Day international (ODI) series in Australia in 2008 and Rohit scored a polished 66 in the final at Sydney.

The interesting facet about Rohit’s batting is his ability to play every shot in the book. Over a period of six years, he has scripted dazzling run-a-ball knocks. He has been a finisher in the past, and now emerged as India’s answer for an opener. Rohit has chosen to bide his time and construct an innings. He has chosen wisely. There is a contrast in his batting though: He respects good balls and hits the bad balls  without any trouble. Yet, sometimes, there is a sudden rush of blood out which truncates a promising compendiums. It’s like a promising novel ending prematurely as a short story.

For a writer, he is one of the most difficult batsmen to write on. A resplendent drive might elicit poetic paragraphs, but then an ugly swipe will make the writer tear his hair apart in frustration.

Against the West Indies on Sunday, he built a carefully-crafted  edifice — a laboured 60 off 88 deliveries —before attempting an impetuous big hit off Darren Sammy. India were well-placed at 124 for three in the 31st over and there was no need for a big hit at that stage. There was a batting powerplay at India’s disposal. What if the well-set Rohit would have batted till the 50th over? It certainly would have made a difference in the final analysis as India lost the match by the narrowest of margin — by one-wicket.

In the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, barring the final, Rohit gift-wrapped his wicket to the opposition. A half-hearted pull against South Africa, a cheeky leg-glance against the West Indies, a feeble flick against Pakistan and a mindless slog against the Sri Lanka — each dismissal ending a promising enterprising knock.

There is no excuse for Rohit; there can be none. He has to put a very high price on his wicket if the cameos have to give way to match-winning innings of substance.

The immediate goal should be to carry on batting till at least the 40th over after getting the start. His CV will look a lot better with more hundreds rather than the dazzling half-centuries.

The inner demons have to be conquered. It is high time Rohit vindicates his talent and wins matches for India.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)