Cricket World Cup 2019: Record-equalling Rohit Sharma is batting on a different planet – KL Rahul
KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma put on 180 to set up India’s win. © AFP

BIRMINGHAM: In his first World Cup, India opener KL Rahul has had a front-row seat to watch the tournament’s leading run-getter and record-setting centurion Rohit Sharma do what he does best, and the rookie cannot believe his fortune.

Rahul, since being bumped up to open the innings for India after Shikhar Dhawan got injured, has scored two fifties and a 48 while forging two century-plus stands with Rohit, who on Tuesday went to the top of the World Cup run table with his fourth hundred of the tournament. Rohit’s breezy 104 in India’s 28-run win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston, to seal their passage to the semi-finals, took him level to Kumar Sangakkara’s record of four centuries in a single World Cup.

Rohit and Rahul (77) put on 180 in 29.2 overs against Bangladesh, before India’s innings lost steam and ended on 314/9 in 50 overs. It proved enough on the day, and Rohit was named Man of the Match.

(ALSO READ: India ride their luck to seal semi-final passage)

Reflecting on his opening partner’s terrific run in this World Cup – 544 runs at an average of 90.66 – after another win, Rahul said that Rohit was batting “on a different planet” in England.

“You would be a fool to be tempted to bat like Rohit because he is in a different class. He is on a different planet altogether when he gets going,” Rahul told reporters at Edgbaston. “He made it look really easy when really it wasn’t anything of the kind. The pitch was two-paced, up and down, not coming on to the bat, but from the way he played you would not have known.”

(ALSO READ: India book semi-final berth by beating Bangladesh at Edgbaston)

Before Rahul, Virat Kohli termed Rohit as “the best one-day player” around after his team-mate scored his 26th ODI century. Rahul, pressed to elaborate on Rohit’s stunning run, credited his opening partner for making his role easier as an opener.

Rohit Sharma World Cup Bangladesh
Rohit Sharma became the second batsman with four centuries in a single World Cup. © AFP

“We expect it from him and he is delivering every time,” said Rahul. “To bat with him is really easy because he takes the pressure off you. He keeps getting the boundaries and the scoreboard keeps ticking, I just have to keep there with him. It is great fun. He has scored the most runs for the team, but everyone else has chipped in and we have talked about that as a team, to keep the contributions coming from the middle order and at the death.”

Rohit and Rahul had earlier put on 136 against Pakistan at Old Trafford, a match in which Rahul made 57. Between these two World Cup fifties, Rahul has scores of 30, 48 and 0.

“Personally, I feel I have been going well, but am not fully satisfied as I haven’t carried on after some of the starts,” he said. “When I say ‘convert’ I mean getting to say, 35 or 45 overs as often as I can because in these conditions it is the set batsmen who can do the most damage.”

India are the second team to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals after Australia, and now play one last group match against Sri Lanka in Leeds on July 6.

“We did enjoy a bit of a celebration after the game,” said Rahul. “We are two steps away from winning the trophy and that has been a dream we have worked towards for the past four years. We put in a clinical performance, we batted and bowled well, and we have this winning momentum. Now we have to make sure we keep our heads up and our eyes on what is happening.”