Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina: A story of lost charm and enigma

Suresh Raina (left) and Rohit Sharma… a high level of potential is getting underutilised © AFP

Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina are among the senior players in the ongoing One-Day International (ODI) series against Zimbabwe. Barring the previous match (fourth ODI), they haven’t done anything of note. Aayush Puthran tracks the lost enigma and the dying charm of arguably the two most talented cricketers in the country currently as they helped India to victory in the fourth ODI against Zimbabwe.

‘Talent meets opportunity’ is quite an overused concept, almost making its original essence surreal. It is precisely the point where Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma — undoubtedly the two most talented players to have made their debut for India this century — are often seen trying to figure out how to work around with the two variables ‘talent’ and ‘opportunity’ to deliver an end result of substance.
Here is a pair, with a combined experience of 285 ODIs playing for the best 50-over outfit in the world. While Raina has been in the team for over eight years, Rohit made his debut five years back. They may be young, but are old enough. Yet, when they guided India to a commanding nine-wicket win against Zimbabwe in the fourth ODI at Bulawayo, there was a sense of pleasure simply to watch them score runs, simply to vindicate our belief that the talent backed so hard has paid, at least for today. There were no sighs or groans and no loud cry of disappointment ‘what a waste!’ going across the hall room.
It gets tough to admit that such high level of potential is getting underutilised, impossible to narrate tales of brilliance, as it has been a story better avoided among other frivolous talks. To know that the two most god-gifted men in the team have played only 17 Tests in the combined 13 years of their international career points towards a bitter fact.
Make no mistake, when in full flow their strokes are as delightful and fine to watch as a performance by Sylvie Guillem. Yet, it is the rarity and the abrupt end to these performances that has frustrated fans over the years. It is not that Raina has performed poorly as an ODI player. He boasts of a fine record statistically and has delivered time and again in crunch situations. Yet, it is the pain of watching him waste the abundant talent that makes for a sorry story, to find a chink in his armour when he continues to be undone by short-pitched deliveries.
Unlike Raina, it is Rohit who has piggybacked along on his exceptional skill-set, which has been sadly underused. He has been dropped, picked again, backed, dropped, picked again, promoted — all while he failed to deliver consistently. Consistency almost seems an alienated term for Rohit, who could have done his case in the team a world of good by performing under tough circumstances. In peak form, he is sublime and nothing seems impossible. But even in hindsight, a lot more remains to be delivered by the Mumbai boy.
It would take a lot of stupendous innings from the duo’s blades hereon for them to achieve the glory that awaits and deserves to meet their talent.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)