Rohit Sharma kept finding Twitter feeds throughout the South African tour. He carried his indifferent form to Nidahas Trophy 2018 in Sri Lanka as well. Adding to the woes, he found himself leading the side. The string of low scores was only stretching till he got the 89 in India’s last group game against Bangladesh. The Man of the Match performance paved India’s entry to the final.

Rohit would strike another fifty in the final to lay a solid foundation for India in the chase of 167. It was not enough though. Bangladesh came back spectacularly to gain an upper hand. India needed 34 off 12 balls when Dinesh Karthik played his first ball.

History will remember what happened since. Karthik would just bat for 9 balls and they would read — 6, 4, 6, 0, 2, 4, 1, 6. The last six coming off the final ball of the match when India required 5 off it. How many cricketers have won Man of the Match for playing just 9 balls?

Nidahas Trophy 2018, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka: Marks out of 10
Nidahas Trophy 2018, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka: Marks out of 10

Karthik’s knock will be remembered in the annals of Indian cricket. Rohit and his young boys, in other words the second string Indian side went on to life the Nidahas Trophy. Of course, Karthik’s knock is amongst his favourite moments of the night, along with lifting the trophy at the podium.

(Trivia: The then Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin lifted the 1998 Nidahas Trophy that was being played to mark the 50th year of Sri Lankan independence. India beat Sri Lanka in the tournament final, courtesy centuries from Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.)

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka’s virtual semi-final saw infuriating scenes towards the end. Bangladesh were criticised for their lack of sportsman spirit and unruly behaviour. The entire Sri Lankan crowd came out in numbers to support the Indian side in order to retaliate against Bangladesh.

Rohit was touched by a particular gesture and he tweeted: “Apart from @DineshKarthik ‘s heroics and India lifting the trophy, this to me was one of the best moments of the night #SportUnitesUs”

The photo of India fan Sudhir being carried in the arms of a Sri Lankan supporter went viral. Rohit was also seen waving the Sri Lankan flag and acknowledging the crowd.

Well, India have certainly won the Nidahas Trophy 2018 with superlative cricket skills but Rohit and his men have also won fans and hearts in a foreign nation. Isn’t it what sports is meant to do? India and Sri Lanka face each other far too often but this tournament took the camaraderie to a different level.