By Suvajit Mustafi
Rohit Sharma, ‘200’ and ODIs sound a quite a match, don’t they?
It took 39 years for the first ODI double hundred to be registered; Rohit scored three in four years. No other cricketer even has two. On Thursday, at Hamilton, skipper Rohit played his 200th ODI. Into his 12th year in international cricket, Rohit’s ODIs saga can be divided into two contrasting halves. A fascinating journey with truckloads of frustrations.
India’s disastrous show in the 2007 World Cup prompted the think-tank to go for young and fresh faces. A 20-year-old Rohit Sharma was amongst the beneficiaries. In June 2007, in Ireland, began an extraordinarily baffling international career.
Despite a promising start, it took him 43 ODIs and three years to register his maiden hundred. Two days later, in the very next ODI, he got his second ton. The inconsistencies didn’t do him too good, and he was dropped for the 2011 World Cup. Team India lifted the cup at Rohit’s home ground in Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
With the seniors rested for the West Indies LOI tour, a hurt Rohit made it back to the side and vented out his frustrations on the hapless West Indians in both, away and home tours.
Rohit in ODI’s in 2011 after the WC:
68*, 7*, 86*, 39, 57, 0*, 72, 90*, 95, 27 and 21
562 runs at 93.7 (SR 88)
Singling out Rohit as the ‘would be’ key man for India in the 2015 World Cup in Australia, Dhoni preferred him to the other young players and even the seniors. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were being rotated to ensure Rohit played all the games of the tri-series. Dhoni eventually lost his patience with Rohit’s underperformance and dropped him midway. Rohit even warmed the bench in the must-win game against Sri Lanka at Hobart.
During the same time, Virat Kohli, who had debuted in 2008 as a teenager, scaled to another level. A self-admitted huge fan of Rohit, Kohli was leaving this ‘talented’ youngster far behind.
After the Asia Cup 2012, their numbers read:
Rohit – ODIs 80 | Runs 1,961 | Ave 33.2 | HS 114 | SR 78.9 | 100s 2
Kohli – ODIs 85 | Runs 3,590 | Ave 50.6 | HS 183 | SR 86.3 | 100s 11
Rohit was soon to hit the worst phase of his career.
Rohit’s 2012 in ODIs
21, 10, 33, 15, 0, 4, 68, 5, 0, 0, 4, 4, 4
168 runs at 12.0 (SR 66.9)
The first six years (2007-2013) of Rohit’s ODI journey looked like this:
ODIs 86 | Runs 1,978 | Ave 30.4 | HS 114 | SR 77.9 | 100s 2 | 50s 12
In India’s tour of South Africa in 2010-11, Rohit had opened thrice scoring 29 runs from three outings that led to his 2011 World Cup knell. Rohit found his way back to the team in January 2013 during the home ODIs against England. He was asked to open, and he responded with a 93-ball 85 in India’s five-wicket win.
Rohit, the opener, was pursued and the spike in consistency shot up. He finished as the fourth highest run-getter (177 runs at 35.4) in India’s victorious 2013 Champions Trophy campaign. Shikhar Dhawan, his new opening partner, had grabbed all the spotlight with 363 runs at 90.8 and scoring at over 101.
Enter the Australians
The George Bailey-led Australian side visited India in the autumn of 2013, and there were fireworks aplenty to the build-up to Diwali. Having lost in Pune, India levelled in Jaipur by chasing down 360. India won by nine wickets with 39 balls to spare! India were chasing the exact same score ten years back in the 2003 World Cup Final. Some sort of redemption for the fans and the team.
The Jaipur scoreboard looked:
Rohit Sharma 141 (123)*
Shikhar Dhawan out 95 (86)
Virat Kohli 100 (52)*
Rohit was far from being done. He smacked 209 at the decider in Bengaluru to help India clinch the series. It was only the third double ton in ODIs. He joined the league of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
His rich form in ODIs ensured him a Test cap. His Test career started with two back-to-back hundreds before struggles crept in at galore. That’s for some other time. Meanwhile, the blue jersey would convert him to a Superman with only no Kryptonite to contain him. He excelled in the Mumbai Indians’ blue as well, leading them to their maiden trophy in 2013. He won the Champions League with them the same year, and would later win another two more IPLs as captain. Well, there I am diverting again. This is about ODIs and let’s stick to it. He soon became the beloved ‘Hitman’ for the fans. From being the internet’s favourite troll to the most loved cricketer.
A year after the 209, he smacked 264 in ODIs against Sri Lanka at his favourite hunting ground Eden Gardens. In 2015, he played his first 50-over World Cup. Like Dhoni had envisioned, Rohit went on to be one of the crucial players for India in the tournament. His 137 against Bangladesh in the quarterfinal was only the second World Cup hundred in a knockout match by an Indian after Sourav Ganguly’s in 2003 semi-final.
However, my personal favourite from that season will remain the 138 he scored against Australia at MCG in a tri-series before the World Cup. It was only Rohit who braved a rampant Mitchell Starc and guided India to a decent total.
His love affair continued with Australia the following year where he scored 171*, 124 and a 99 in a five-match series.
In 2017, Kohli took over the reins from Dhoni as the Indian LOI captain and Rohit was elevated to vice-captaincy. Despite his apparent discomfort with in-swing or in-coming deliveries, Rohit still found a way to continue his domination in coloured clothes. Injuries did hamper his progress, but he found special ways to mark his returns. Later in 2017, he led India to a 2-1 win over Sri Lanka at home. He smacked another double hundred in the series.
As a captain, in 2018, he led India to the Asia Cup title where India beat arch-rivals Pakistan twice in the tournament. In the recently concluded home series in Australia, Rohit blazed to 133, a lone hand in India’s defeat. With 22 ODI hundreds, he equalised Ganguly’s tally. For over 16 years, Ganguly was India’s second-most century-maker in ODIs till Kohli got past him in 2015.
The last six years of Rohit’s ODI career:
ODIs 114 | Runs 5,828 | Ave 59.46 | HS 264 | SR 92.7 | 100s 20 | 50s 27
How many have literally doubled the average like Rohit has?
Rohit’s average of 57.8 is the highest for any opener with over 1,100 ODI runs.
Greatest ODI openers of the decade (from 2010 till date)
Most prolific Indian openers
In 2000, Ganguly had become the first Indian to register an ODI hundred in Australia. Rohit (30 ODIs) has five hundreds in Australia, the joint-most by overseas players with Virat Kohli (26 ODIs) and Kumar Sangakkara (49 ODIs). Also, he loves playing against Australia. He already has seven ODI hundreds against them, the most after Tendulkar who has nine. Rohit has played 31 ODIs against Australia and Tendulkar 71.
Highest average against Australia (over 1,000 runs)
|AB de Villiers||26||1,250||59.5||136*||99||1||10|
Highest scores in ODIs
|Rohit Sharma (India)||264 (173)||Sri Lanka||Kolkata||2014-15|
|Martin Guptill (New Zealand)||237 (163)*||West Indies||Wellington||2014-15|
|Virender Sehwag (India)||219 (149)||West Indies||Indore||2011-12|
|Chris Gayle (West Indies)||215 (147)||Zimbabwe||Canberra||2014-15|
|Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan)||210 (156)*||Zimbabwe||Bulawayo||2018|
|Rohit Sharma (India)||209 (158)||Australia||Bengaluru||2013-14|
|Rohit Sharma (India)||208 (153)*||Sri Lanka||Mohali||2017-18|
|Sachin Tendulkar (India)||200 (147)*||South Africa||Gwalior||2009-10|
|Charles Coventry (Zimbabwe)||194 (156)*||Bangladesh||Bulawayo||2009|
|Saeed Anwar (Pakistan)||194 (146)||India||Chennai||1997|
Rohit’s overall ODI batting record
ODIs 200 | Runs 7,806 | Ave 47.9 | HS 264 | SR 88.5 | 100s 22 | 50s 39
On Rohit, Kohli and Dhawan rest India’s batting fortune as they eye the World Cup in England later this year. At 31, Rohit has some good years ahead of him. Despite the prolonged inconsistent patch, Rohit unarguably has established himself as one of the greatest cricketers in the ODI format.