Coach's wise words that made Rohit turn over a new leaf

On Saturday, he added yet another jewel to his crown by becoming only the third Indian captain to win an ICC trophy.
India's captain Rohit Sharma reacts during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match between India and South Africa at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.
India's captain Rohit Sharma reacts during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match between India and South Africa at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.Photo | AP

CHENNAI: He was hailed as one for the future since his international debut in 2007. Fittingly enough, only a few months later, he made his maiden international appearance in the shortest format during the inaugural T20 World Cup. By the time the tournament came to an end, the MS Dhoni-led Indian team had won the trophy and 20-year-old Rohit Sharma had announced his arrival in style

The strong beginning meant Rohit was expected to take the cricketing world by storm. However, the enthusiasm turned into despair as Rohit, despite all his talents, seemed to be lost in oblivion. Between 2009 and 2011, he apparently lost his way, only to miss out on the chance to feature in the 2011 ODI World Cup. 

It was then his childhood coach, Dinesh Lad, stepped in and advised him to give more time to the sport that has given him recognition. The advice did wonders as the right-hand explosive batter made a stunning comeback to rewrite records, especially in limited-overs cricket.

"No doubt he was highly talented but he was not giving enough time to cricket. I advised him to focus more on the same and give cricket more time. He promised me the same and rest, as they say, is history," Lad told this daily.

Rohit has been unstoppable since then, as he is the only Indian player to have played all the editions of the T20 World Cup since its inception 17 years ago. On Saturday, he added yet another jewel to his crown by becoming only the third Indian captain to win an ICC trophy. 

Lalchand Rajput, manager of the 2007 T20 WC-winning team, had seen the signs during the 2007 tournament.

"Yeah, I think we gave him an opportunity there. And then he played a fearless game that shows that, you know, he was not afraid of the big players," Rajput said.

India's captain Rohit Sharma reacts during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match between India and South Africa at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.
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Be it his three double hundreds in the 50-over format or his five centuries in the T20Is, Rohit has stood out with his performances over the years. Lad said he used to brim with confidence even during his early days as a cricketer.

"He was full of confidence even while playing school-level cricket. He led our school team during the Harris Shield tournament and always possessed leadership skills," Lad said.

Rajput also echoed the sentiments and said Rohit has matured with time.

"I think over the years he has definitely developed his cricketing skills as well as his other skills, including captaincy skill because that has really helped him as well. And he's become more mature, taken responsibility and is leading from the front. He has won five titles in IPL, which also help. And now being the captain, as we all know that the players really respect him and he takes everybody together. And that's the reason why he's been doing well."

India might have lost the ODI World Cup final against Australia last year but Rohit led by example, giving good starts to the team almost on all occasions. The failure to lift the trophy in 2023 made him more determined, as he came up with renewed zeal in the T20 World Cup.

"He has reinvented his batting, not just for him but for the team. See, I just said the leader does not think about himself. He has to play for the team and players as well. So that's why he's doing that. Now, he's playing that brand of cricket that others can also learn from him," said Rajput.

It is this brand of cricket by Rohit that turned the tide in India's favour this T20 World Cup. From being a highly talented prodigy who was not living up to the standards, Rohit has certainly come a long way in the last 17 years. But all that was not possible without that timely advice by the coach, as it changed Rohit from being a wunderkind to a leader who can carry the team on his shoulders when the time demands so.

(With inputs from Gomesh S)

India's captain Rohit Sharma reacts during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match between India and South Africa at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday, June 29, 2024.
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