Waiting in the wings, debutant drew inspiration from Mike Hussey
Twenty nine years after a skinny debutant made the Kolkata evening glorious with an artful hundred on debut, with India in a spot of bother, another one of those clan of stylists made an emphatic hundred in his maiden Test. As did Mohammed Azharuddin and so did Rohit Sharma, though there are little other lines than crisscross their career-paths.
In fact, their careers ran on divergent lines until Thursday. Azharuddin was then unknown, all of 21, whereas Rohit endured the brunt of having played the maximum ODIs before launching his Test career, despite being on the cusp on many occasions. He was all assured of a Test cap against South Africa in Nagpur in 2010 but for a freak injury on the morning of the match.
Those wounds took time to heal, but heal they did. “What happened three years ago was really disappointing. But I have learnt to not think much about it. I was just waiting for my opportunity. I knew that if I kept working hard and got enough runs, nothing would stop me. I never put head down and took a lot of inspiration from players like Mike Hussey, who made his debut at 30-31. I just wanted to keep my focus and knew that there will be a time when the runs would keep coming,” he said.
A renewed approach and a tougher mindset have helped. Rohit, Mark II, has been less flashy but more intense, a method that has benefited him even in limited overs. En route to his hundred, he again reaped the benefits of it. He assessed the scenario and responded with a maturity debutants seldom display.
He gave maximum respect to the conditions and circumstances. “When I came in, they were bowling well and we just played to the situation. The priority was not to throw the wickets away. We didn’t think of anything else. At Eden, if you survive the initial spell, you get a lot of run-scoring opportunities,” he reflected.
The pitch, too, didn’t suit his brand of batting, and he responded by curbing shots through the “V”. “The wicket got slower as the day progressed. Sometimes the ball held back and stopped at the batsman. So I couldn’t play much on the rise and instead played more through the square and cover region,” he explained.
Focused as he was, he hardly seemed the looter he was in Bangalore, who breezed away to an ODI double hundred. “This shows how different Test cricket is. The other day I took only 150 balls to score a double century but today it took me almost 200 balls to reach my hundred. I have played a lot of first-class matches and am not new to such situations. That is why this effort is more special, though both are close to my heart,” he said.
Like Azharuddin, who aggregated 107.50 here, Rohit too relishes the venue. “I made my first-class debut for Mumbai here, became the Mumbai Indians captain here and scored a reasonable amount of runs, too. So I like this venue,” he said. His only IPL hundred, too, has come at this venue. Like Azhar’s, like VVS Laxman’s, this might be another romance in the making.
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