Rohit Sharma slammed his 10th T20I fifty on Wednesday © AFP
Rohit Sharma slammed his 10th T20I fifty on Wednesday © AFP

Rohit Sharma has struck as many as 10 half-centuries in Twenty20 International (T20I) cricket so far, in 51 games. Shikhar Dhawan, who is likely to remain Rohit’s partner at the top, recently scored his maiden fifty in the format. While the two Indian batsmen remain quite different in their approach and batting styles, it is Rohit who is rapidly turning into a monster in limited-overs cricket with a unique strategy that is helping him to score heaps of runs. The same was witnessed in the first match of the Asia Cup T20 2016 tournament, wherein Rohit was adjudged the Man of the Match for his 55-ball 83.

What is it so special about Rohit and the colossal amount of runs that he has been putting on board of late? He is as aggressive as Virat Kohli and Dhawan, and remains hungry for success ever since he rediscovered his mojo post the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 — a tournament in which Rohit was not a part of the Indian cricket team.

Rohit’s rise began in the One-Day International (ODI) series in the Caribbean in 2011 — a five-match ODI affair in which the right-handed batsman made 257 runs with three half-centuries at 128.50. The series marked Rohit’s emergence, and since then he has been on a constant rise, but there is one unique factor which has been the core of his splendid run-making.

The Indian openers have adopted a unique strategy of making slow but steady starts, as they know the team consists of one of the strongest batting line-ups that can post as well as successfully chase big totals. The trend was observed in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, as Rohit and Dhawan used to began on a sedate note and only open up later on after the initial, pressure phase is over and the new ball is not as assisting as before.

Following this plan, both Rohit and Dhawan have been able to reap benefits. Unfortunately, Dhawan has been guilty of throwing away his wickets playing lose shots on many occasions, Rohit has trusted his stroke-making ability more to respect the good deliveries. On Wednesday night at Dhaka, Rohit did not play many special shots — his innings consisted of mostly orthodox strokes — but gave himself the best chance of making big runs by sticking around in the middle when the going was tough.

Rohit scored 83 in the first Asia Cup 2016 match, off 55 balls. He struck 3 sixes and 7 boundaries to get his runs, but what is important here is to notice that 62 of these runs came in after the 10th over — till which Rohit had only crawled to 25-ball 21, with just 1 boundary.

Rohit cut lose in the 11th over off Taskin, hitting 2 fours and 1 six in the final three balls. Bangladesh were taken by surprise, as they understandably remained jubilant having kept the Indians quiet and removing Dhawan, Kohli and Suresh Raina for cheap. They did not notice Rohit’s presence until the 11th over, and the batsman remained somehow unnoticed for as long as half of the innings.

The strategy of making steady start and opening up later on had worked for Rohit in both T20Is and ODIs, home and away. If he manages to carry on in the same manner, he will be no less than a monster.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)