Rohit Sharma’s obsessive love affair with Eden Gardens

VVS Laxman was the undisputed King of Eden Gardens for he consistently set the stage alight at India’s most iconic venue. However, that crown seems to have passed down to Rohit Sharma, who has made Kolkata his second home. From his Indian Premier League (IPL) ton to the Test debut, or even the magnificent 264 in the one-dayer, Eden Gardens has been Rohit’s favourite hunting ground. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks Rohit’s five gems at the Eden Gardens.

 

Since his India under-19 days, Rohit Sharma has played 13 matches across formats at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. His first game at the iconic venue was for the India under-19 against the touring England under-19 — a game where he wasn’t required to bat. In fact, his next three outings were far from memorable as he recorded scores of 21 (Mumbai vs Bengal in Ranji Trophy 2006-07), zero (Kolkata Knight Riders vs Deccan Chargers, IPL 2008) and two (Kolkata Knight Riders vs Deccan Chargers, IPL 2010). Since then however, he has had a love affair with the hallowed turf, getting five big scores in his next nine games, beginning with a double ton in the Ranji Trophy. Here are Rohit’s five gems at the Eden Gardens.

 

1.  200 not out vs Bengal, Ranji Trophy 2010-11

This innings came at a time when Rohit was pushing for a spot in the Indian team ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. When Mumbai faced Bengal in their group encounter at the Eden Gardens, their batting machinery got their act together with Ajinkya Rahane smashing a ton and Wasim Jaffer holding fort with a fifty. Rohit walked in at 236 for three and stunned Bangalore with his magnificent display. He got his 200 in only 257 balls, featuring 23 fours and three sixes. That helped Mumbai score 621 in the first innings and secure a crucial lead.

 

2.  109 not out vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2012

This was an innings of great class and pedigree. Although it came in the shortest format, it was testament to Rohit’s ability as it came in a tough setting. In 2012, Kolkata Knight Riders would often play on dust bowls at home, where their spinners Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan could spin a web. Mumbai Indians were batting first and lost Sachin Tendulkar early. In partnership with Herschelle Gibbs (66 not out), Rohit took Mumbai to 182, which was too much for Kolkata on the surface. Against the fast bowlers, he pulled across the line and made it look all too easy. At the same time, he was measured against Narine and ensured that his team did not let the tweaker dominate. That ability to adjust his gameplay stood out on the day.

 

3.  177 vs West Indies, 1st Test, 2013

Rohit had waited for years to don the Test cap. Having come close in 2010, that wait had only become more agonising as the years went by. Finally, he was awarded the opportunity when West Indies came over in 2013 for Tendulkar’s farewell. West Indies were bowled out for 234 in the first innings and India were then in trouble at 82 for four when Tendulkar was dismissed. Soon, they stumbled to 83 for five. Less than a week after his first one-day double, Rohit settled himself in for the long innings. In partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin, he rescued India with a calm knock, full of some great strokes. A hundred on debut was a just reward for the years in wait and it had come under tough circumstances, when Shane Shillingford was threatening to run through the side.

 

4.  264 vs Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, 2014

No amounts of superlatives are enough to describe this knock. It was simply mind-boggling! Many forget the backdrop though. Rohit was injured on the tour to England and had missed quite a few games. Meanwhile, Ajinkya Rahane had filled in for him and had done a very good job. Rohit was recalled in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) against Sri Lanka with Shikhar Dhawan taking a break. He was desperate to reclaim his spot at the top and Lady Luck smiled on him when he was dropped on four in the deep. That dropped catch would go on to cost Sri Lanka 260 runs. Starting in a classy way, Rohit eased to a run-a-ball ton. What was interesting about this knock was the way he paced it. His first fifty came off 72 balls, he got to his ton in 100 and thereafter it was carnage. Rohit drove, pulled, slogged and made merry as the Sri Lankans looked hapless. On 264, he had the opportunity to break Ali Brown’s record for the highest List A score of 268, but holed out to the deep off the last ball of the innings.

 

5.  98 not out vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2015

The first game of the IPL 2015 was lit up by Rohit’s brilliance as his innings of 98 not out helped Mumbai Indians put up a good total. That his team wasn’t able to defend it shouldn’t take anything away from his classy effort. Mumbai Indians had been reduced to 37 for three in the sixth over and Rohit had kept them together with his solid effort. Again, the timing of this innings was remarkable. When Mumbai needed calm against the likes of Narine and Shakib, Rohit kept calm. He got his fifty in 46 balls but then sensed the opportunity to attack. Off his next 19 balls, he hit 48 runs, driving, lofting, sweeping — playing all the shots in the book. He could have gotten his second IPL ton at the Eden Gardens but missed out in the final over.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45. The above article was first published in CricketCountry)