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When life gives you a second chance, take it like Rohit Sharma

Last updated on 28 Jun 2024 | 01:46 PM
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When life gives you a second chance, take it like Rohit Sharma

It is quite incredible to note that Rohit Sharma, one of India’s greatest white-ball players, has yet to win a World Cup since 2007

Try watching Rohit Sharma closely at a press conference. 

Despite such interrogation, there never is a moment where the 37-year-old loses his calm. You would naturally assume that there is ice in his vein. But if you look at him out there in the field, you will know the pressure that comes with the job. 

Rohit might not have Virat Kohli’s aggression or Suryakumar Yadav’s swagger but what he does have is determination. 

The determination to lift that T20 World Cup title and thus put an end to that long-standing title search. Rohit is as old as T20s in the country, given that he was an integral part of India’s success at the inaugural edition of the tournament. 

Nearly 17 years have passed since, and India have repeatedly been found wanting to keep up with the growing demands. It is not a question of desire (or lack thereof) but of the process they have employed, which has proven to be outdated. 

The current Indian team, though, are, by a long mile, trendsetters. 

On the eve of the semi-final clash against England, Rohit’s words were crystal clear. He wanted everyone in the team to shed the baggage of fear and milestones. 

Think of it: how many times have all of you undergone stressful days having to think about milestones, numbers and how those small things have affected you and your work big time? Now imagine if that same stress was multiplied by a thousand times; that’s what it is to be a cricketer in a country where you earn and lose respect, all in one day. 

Rohit’s India are a prime example of demolishing and destroying the foundation stone of Indian cricket: milestones. This starts with the captain himself, who hasn’t feared losing a battle. You could see it in this year’s World Cup, where the 37-year-old walked out with the intention of causing destruction. 

Thus far, Rohit has scored 248 runs across seven games, averaging 41.33. These numbers can already be rose-tinted in this year’s relatively low-scoring tournament. But that’s where Rohit has walked the talk, embracing the adventures of aggression while walking a tightrope. 

He’s embraced that challenge like no one in Indian cricket has ever done, rewiring and relearning everything at the age of 37 that he had learnt about the shortest format of the game way back in 2007.

That’s where Rohit’s credentials are clearly distinguishable. In 2022, India were still trying to live in the golden days of taking the game deep, but come to the 2024 edition, they have burnt down those horror diaries, switching them for more compact 50-page journals. 

Rohit clearly has the numbers to back that aggression, a strike rate of 156. Even a microscopic inspection of the Indian matches would tell you that there aren’t too many batters who have an attack % of 58.5, as Rohit does. 

Agreed that it comes at the cost of not being in total control, with the case in example being the clash against England, where easily Rohit could have been out in the powerplay. 

But he is no longer living that dreaded life filled with fear. This is the new Rohit, who is redefining the principles of T20 cricket for the Men in Blue. That, in return, has landed him in unchartered territory where the message is quite loud and clear: enjoy yourself.

Rohit has clearly been enjoying cricket, evident from the fact that he strikes at 146.6 in the powerplay for openers, while the mean average has been lost somewhere in the 90s (97.74). It surely hasn’t been the tournament to play crash-bang wallop cricket, but that’s where the Men in Blue have challenged the convention. 

He has done all of this while facing some of the toughest bowling units in the competition: the Australians, the English, the Bangladeshis, and the Pakistanis. They have all consciously targeted his weakness, but more often than not, he has prevailed with a sense of chaos that has put the opposition under immense scrutiny. 

So much so that the bowlers have been forced to rethink their strategy of bowling it short to him. So much so that even the best of minds in the business, Jos Buttler, refused to throw the ball to his off-spinner Moeen Ali in the fear of Rohit and his batting partner, Suryakumar. 

Until that clash against Australia, Rohit never had a real shot at scoring a T20 World Cup century. But when he had one, he didn’t slow down or look at avenues where he could have easily laboured across to the three-figure mark. He was looking to attack. 

"The fifties and hundreds don't matter; I wanted to bat at the same tempo and carry on. Need to put the bowlers under pressure, and you need big scores for that. I tried to access all sides of the field, not just one side,” Rohit said in the aftermath of that Australia clash. 

Rohit was all of 20 when he first burst on the stage of T20I cricket when he scored a crucial half-century against South Africa. 17 years later, at the age of 37, he’s here finally understanding the pulse of the growing demands of the shortest format with his best-ever T20 World Cup campaign. 

"This was my last [T20I] game as well," Rohit said at the press conference after the final. "No better time to say goodbye to this format. I've loved every moment of this. I started my India career playing this format. This is what I wanted, I wanted to win the cup.

"I wanted this badly. Very hard to put in words. It was a very emotional moment for me. I was very desperate for this title in my life. Happy that we eventually crossed the line."

Life has indeed come to a full circle for Rohit, completing one of the greatest character arcs in the history of T20 World Cups. Ironically, it has come against South Africa, a team against whom it all started for Rohit way back in 2007. 

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