posted on 2019-07-03 00:48:48
posted by Rohit Sankar
Q: What do Faf du Plessis, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Joe Root, Tamim Iqbal and Fakhar Zaman have in common in World Cup 2019?
This might be way out of your league, quizzers, unless you have been nitpicking details from World Cup 2019 with minimal distractions surrounding you.
Here you go.
A: Each of them has given Rohit Sharma an early life in this World Cup and each time the swashbuckling Indian opener has gone on to hurt their team massively.
Against South Africa, Rohit was on just 1, when Rabada sent down a throat-tickler only for Rohit to fend to the cordon. Faf du Plessis rushed in from the slips but the ball fell just short of his full-stretch dive. On 2 against Australia, Rohit flicked Mitchell Starc to Nathan Coulter-Nile at mid-wicket but the Australian let a diving catch slip. Against Pakistan, Fakhar Zaman threw the ball to the wrong end to give Rohit, charging out of his mark for a second run, a life.
It was Joe Root’s turn to do Rohit a favour against England as he put the Indian opener down in the cordon off Jofra Archer. Rohit was on just 4 then, barely settled down at the wicket, and fidgety as usual. Bangladesh carried forward the trend on Tuesday with Tamim Iqbal dropping Rohit off Mustafizur Rehman when the batsman was on 9.
In four of these five instances, Rohit hadn’t yet reached double figures. In all of them he crossed the half-century mark and in four of them he made centuries.
Talk about making your chances count!
Rohit has 544 runs in the World Cup so far and is perched atop the run makers list. He averages a whopping 90.67 and has four centuries. But 479 of those runs have come after he was dropped. He might well have made 113 runs at an average of 16.14 if the five fielders had grabbed their opportunities.
Ifs and buts are part and parcel of Rohit Sharma’s illustrious career which is still underwhelming if you balance it out with his humungous talent. A fantastic stroke-maker, Rohit makes his own luck but how do you explain the runs made post the dropped chances?
Riding your luck is one thing. But since he consistently rides that luck, it is starting to get a tad less lucky.
Sample the spectacular 264 he blitzed against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in 2014. He was put down when on 4 by Thisara Perera. The Mumbaikar added 260 runs more. That is nearly 12% of all runs Thisara Perera has made in ODIs to-date.
The narrative is pretty evident – he gifts chances early. If you take it, good for you. If you don’t, HE WILL MAKE YOU PAY.
In 29 of the 44 times Rohit has crossed single digits in ODIs since 2017, he has gone on to make a score of 50 or more. More than half of those 29 have been hundreds. One of those 16 100-plus scores is a double hundred and four of them are above 140.
A suspect player of swing and seam, the bowlers off whom Rohit gave early chances in this World Cup is enough evidence to suggest that quality bowlers can still dismiss him early.
Three of Rabada, Starc, Archer and Mustafizur – those unlucky bowlers – have more than 15 wickets in this World Cup. They have out-thought Rohit and exploited his weakness only to agonizingly watch their own mates let him off the hook.
Bowl full to Rohit and you stand a chance early. Of course, a well-directed short ball is good too. But the risk of bowling short early to Rohit, a subdued player in the powerplay, is that he uses it as his escape shot. Against South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh, he took on the short ball for sixes within the first powerplay. Against South Africa and Bangladesh, he nearly miscued good short balls while going for his shots.
It always works both ways with Rohit. There is no one fool-proof way of dismissing him. There is no telling if he would tee off and make a double hundred or nick one to first slip early on. There is no telling if the short ball would be caressed over square leg or top-edged to mid-on.
But if and when Rohit is dropped, he painfully makes the opposition realize that it was their fault that got him till where it eventually did get him.
The 544 runs in this World Cup don’t tell that story. The fun and frolic in the press conference don’t tell it either. The dejected faces of those five men as Rohit raised his bat to soak in one century after another tells you the untold story of Rohit’s World Cup. He has had his fair share of luck but he has ridden it too.