Can Rohit Sharma step up in IPL 2024?

IPL 2024 will be an intriguing season for Rohit Sharma.
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While there is no guarantee, Rohit has all the reasons to perform in IPL 2024.

IPL 2024 will be an intriguing season for Rohit Sharma. He is no longer the captain of Mumbai Indians (MI) and will play solely as a batter, likely opening with Ishan Kishan. However, Rohit will be under immense pressure to step up as a batter now.

While he was mediocre for a prolonged period of time as an IPL batter, Rohit’s place in the XI was always safe since he led the unit successfully. Most of his below-par performances were ignored due to his leadership credentials. But now that he is not at the helm anymore, the 36-year-old cannot afford another average season.

Every year, one question lingers before the start of IPL - Will this be Rohit Sharma’s year? The fresh season is no different. It’s hard to find reasons for Rohit’s shocking run in IPL when he has been among the most consistent batters in the international arena in this format.

While there is no guarantee, Rohit has all the reasons to perform in IPL 2024. For starters, he has to focus on his batting only, without any burden of captaincy. He is obviously well-equipped to handle both roles precisely after leading the franchise for ten years, but Rohit would have some extra baggage.

Rohit’s white-ball game in the last couple of years has been contrasting to his tried and tested method. He has gone after bowlers in the powerplay, trying to maximise the field restrictions. His approach was mighty successful in the World Cup, where he struck at 135.01 and had a balls-per-boundary ratio of 4.24 in the first ten overs.

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Further, MI don’t want him to play the traditional game, for they have a long batting unit in their strongest XI. The introduction of Impact Player will only lengthen Mumbai’s batting, and they can afford a few quick wickets if they come at the expense of brisk runs. Last year, Mumbai Indians had a batting lineup so fearsome that no target was safe against them.

So Rohit won’t need to tweak his new-found approach and will only need to go with the flow from the first ball. Rohit needs to provide consistent, rapid starts to lay a strong foundation for the quality batters that follow. And MI would expect it from their ex-captain.

Despite being 36, Rohit has shown no signs of regression, and his stroke play is as fluent as ever. On his day, he can dismantle any bowling unit with ease. So, there are no questions about his ability or panache, either.

Another thing Rohit offers is a top-notch game sense and experience acquired after years of hard work. When India were reeling at 22/4 against Afghanistan in the third T20I earlier this year, Rohit showed his prudence by sensing the delicacy of the game and slowed down initially. After gauging the pace of the pitch, he unleashed his range of shots, hitting the Afghan bowlers all around the park.

Sharma ended on 121 in 69 deliveries, with the help of 11 boundaries and eight maximums, to take India to a massive 212/4. If Rohit also got out in the powerplay, India would have ended with a below-par total on a nice batting deck. Instead, his knock helped India win the game eventually.

All in all, there is no reason to doubt Rohit’s batting prowess, but it has always been the case. Every year, MI has massive expectations from him, and Rohit hasn't quite stepped up. Why he has failed to show his true potential in recent years in the IPL is anyone’s guess.

Not that Rohit needs any incentive at this stage of his career, but he has a point to prove this edition. One of the most significant reasons for his captaincy snub was his mediocre run in the previous seasons. Rohit’s batting returns only made the decision easier for the team management, even if this wasn’t the main reason.

Jay Shah confirmed that Rohit will lead the side in the T20 World Cup 2024, but there are doubts lingering over him. Rohit has himself to blame for that. IPL 2024 will serve as a fine platform to fine-tune his game and get into T20 rhythm.

For Rohit, this IPL seems a win-win deal. Now, it’s up to him to do what he is known to do in white-ball cricket. Don’t be surprised if Rohit Sharma impresses everyone with his willow in IPL 2024.

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