Rohit Sharma is most likely to open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan for India © Getty Images
Rohit Sharma is most likely to open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan for India © Getty Images

India enter the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 with a cloud of scepticism hovering over their title defence. While the Indians would struggle to refute the doubting Thomasses on most counts, the batting firepower led by Rohit Sharma, who will open for them, is a shining light in an otherwise grim landscape, reckons Ankur Dhawan.

Rohit Sharma has been a perennial underachiever in Indian cricket. Predestination mysteriously switched as it is Virat Kohli and not Rohit who has consistently achieved the astronomical success soothsayers had predicted for the latter. However, in all fairness, his Test match form aside, Rohit has come into his own as a limited overs cricketer ever since he was promoted up the batting order. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: POINTS TABLE

Perhaps a parallel can be drawn between Australia’s Mark Waugh and Rohit, who mirrors the former in more ways than one. Barring their batting positions in the Test and One-Day International (ODI) sides and graceful strokeplay that’s more pleasing to the eye than Angelina Jolie, there are glaring similarities in how they’ve both got envious records in ODIs, even as consistency in Test match cricket has eluded them both. Perhaps limited overs cricket is Rohit’s comfort zone and forte. Indian fans shall be thankful if he carries his recent ODI form into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: SCHEDULE & MATCH DETAILS

After the sterling 264 against Sri Lanka at home, Rohit has developed a penchant for big daddy hundreds in the shorter format for India at the top of the order, often laying foundations for massive totals that the middle order has capitalised upon, and sometimes did not even need to. In Australia his job will be harder against two new balls, and the significance of his contribution larger. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Complete Coverage

His 138 against Australia in India’s tri-series opener was a reminder to the world that India may not be favourites going into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but they will be no push overs. The aforesaid innings was an ODI knock paced to perfection. The maturity with which that hundred was constructed has somewhat become synonymous with Rohit in ODI cricket.  Since then though, an injury kept him out of the game for the next three ODIs, but fans can find solace in the fact that he looked in ominous form and that form hasn’t all been used up yet and may come to India’s rescue at big games during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

Rohit has returned from injury with a bang and has begun the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 on an auspicious note, carrying on from where he left at Melbourne, carting the Afghanistan bowling attack to every corner of the Adelaide Oval in the warm-up match. His innings of 150 not only came with wickets tumbling around him but was also instrumental in India registering their first win in Australia over the last three months. It has made sure that India go into their first match against Pakistan with modicum of confidence.

With Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit’s opening partner, still trying to find his feet in Australia, India will depend heavily upon Rohit to do the bulk of the scoring at the top of the pack. Furthermore, considering India’s lamb like bowling attack, which often fails to assert itself on even the associate nations (if the warm-up match against Afghanistan was a fair reflection), India will invariably need a score in excess of 320 to be in with a chance against most teams. Thus, Rohit’s and India’s fortunes at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 remain intertwined.

(AnkurDhawan is a reporter with CricketCountry. Heavily influenced by dystopian novels, he naturally has about 59 conspiracy theories for every moment in the game of cricket. On finding a direct link between his head and the tip of his fingers, he also writes about it)