CHENNAI:How fate can change in a span of only four months.It was only last December when the world had witnessed the kind of bowling annihilation that Rohit Sharma can rain down on oppositions: a third ODI double hundred against Sri Lanka, one that was followed up nine days later by the joint-fastest T20I ton, against the same team.
Cut to March 12, 2018. Twelve balls into India’s chase against the same nation in the Nidahas Trophy (this time in their backyard), and many a Twitterati had already begun grinding their poleaxes, ready to verbally scythe down the right-hander and his reputation. His score read 11; he’d lasted seven deliveries.
“Dear Rohit, we don’t need a batsman who can score a 200 in a decade, we need one who can score a 50 when the team needs it”: screamed one zinger. “KL Rahul Is Far Better Batsman Than Rohit Sharma. At Least He Doesn’t Rely On Others To Get Out” : howled another brickbat (Rahul was dismissed hit-wicket).
They couldn’t be blamed; 308 runs from 16 innings across all formats this year is the ostensible statistical antithesis of the word “stirring”. That 115 of those runs came in one clash — India’s fifth ODI in South Africa — and the fact that he’d accumulated the most number of T20I ducks for the nation further stoked the flames of this ire.
“There’s nothing wrong with his game. His mental approach is where he is erring. You can get out once or twice in a similar fashion, but you can’t keep doing that. He’s a great — not just good — batsman, and hence the expectations,” observed former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad.
“The coaches and video analysts can only help anyone that much, but it’s the player in the middle who has to get the job done. Ravi Shastri is not going to come out to bat for him, right? He’s looking susceptible to balls that are moving into him, and most of his dismissals off late have been soft ones. It’s time that he figures all this out, instead of waiting for the day which turns out to be his.”
Putting a prize on his wicket might perhaps be the technical tourniquet that Rohit needs to turn his fortunes around; a notion that assumes more veracity while looking at his six T20I outings this year. None, for starters, have lasted beyond the powerplay.
Or more than 13 balls for Rohit, for that matter. Apart from being short shrifted by inward movement from Junior Dala (in SA) and Mustafizur Rahman (during
India’s second match), Rohit’s trademark, premeditative positioning too has cost him.
“You can’t bat with only preconceived ideas. A lot of things can go against a batsman on a given day, be it the bowlers, the wicket, his own footwork, or even his sighting, for that matter. His concentration has to be up to the mark during each delivery to counter all these factors. He needs to face each ball like he’s batting on zero.”