In India’s first match of the ICC World Cup 2019 against South Africa at Southampton, opener Rohit Sharma struck a gritty 122 off 144 balls studded with 13 fours and two sixes while chasing a total of 227. The unbeaten knock took India to a thumping six-wicket win. But what stood out was Rohit’s patience and gumption to survive on a tough wicket.
With the ball moving around and the South African bowlers getting good bounce, batting was difficult, but Rohit fought his instincts and remained composed throughout to guide India to victory.
The performance earned Rohit plenty of plaudits, including his captain Virat Kohli.
“I think in my opinion this is by far his best ODI innings because of the kind of pressure the first game brings from a World Cup point of view. And then I know, as a batsman, when you go in, and a few balls bounce like that, it’s not easy to gather yourself again and play calmly. A lot of times, batsmen tend to hit their way out of the situation. But he was very composed,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation.
Before this World Cup began, all eyes were on Virat Kohli to be India’s leading star batsman in the event. Even on discussions of top batsmen to look out for in World Cup 2019, the names of Kohli, David Warner, Jos Buttler, Kane Williamson, Chris Gayle, and the likes were doing the rounds.
However, it looks like Rohit, in his quiet, understated way, might well be India’s batting star in this tournament. When he made his debut for India way back in 2007, Rohit was a young middle-order batsman with a lot of talent but a proclivity to get out after making attractive cameos. He would be in and out of the squad and wasn’t even part of the World Cup 2011 squad which won the trophy. But ever since Rohit had been made a regular opener in 2013, he has had a dramatic transformation and has produced some incredible numbers – 6154 runs in 120 innings at an average of 59.17 with 21 hundred and 29 fifties.
In 2019, he has already accumulated 678 runs in 14 innings at an average of 52.15 with two hundred and four fifties. Rohit is in prime form and might just be achieving his best in this World Cup. He has the technique, class, and elegance to take on the best bowlers. And while he had the penchant for getting out to rash strokes many a time earlier, Rohit seems to have conquered that habit finally and is becoming more mature as a batsman in recent times.
Once he gets in, Rohit can destroy any attack in the world and score those ‘Daddy’ hundreds – he already has a record three double centuries in ODIs.
Now with Rohit showing greater maturity than ever before, opposition bowlers in the World Cup should be wary. Teams might be focusing on getting Virat Kohli out but Rohit, with his class and persistence, might be taking games away from them.