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The day Rohit Sharma lost his appetite

Last updated on 09 May 2023 | 07:35 AM
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The day Rohit Sharma lost his appetite

And the day he won it back

It was unlike most mornings for Rohit Sharma. He had no appetite. He didn’t feel like starting with his usual vada pav. Sitting at the dining table, staring at his go-to vada pav, he asked for it to be taken away. This was a matter of concern for the Sharma household. Little if anything could come between Rohit and his beloved vada pav

Yet Rohit knew. He had lost his appetite. Not just for his vada pav but for something far more critical. For big runs. He had seen how it had panned out for the greats before him, one day, boom, and the switch goes off. It’s not always a glitch in the internal engineering of a player’s cricketing circuit. Yet with age, net-after-net, match-after-match, time after time, Rohit looked but couldn’t just find his mojo. 

His mojo made him joke in the slips. It made him laugh about slips. It told him, that no matter what, he was above this. Now he was faced with this dreaded new reality: he was not above this. This, whatever it was, was glugging him; he saw the metaphorical water reach above his waistline. He heard the innumerable jokes about his waistline. Even though he rarely let on, it hurt him. He thought them crude, not that he had a problem with crude, but this was strangely below the belt.

Prior to this, Rohit had had his best time as an all-format player. Those five IPL trophies were going nowhere. After years of traversing the Test wastelands in the middle order, he was opening to five days of a hearty supper. 

Rohit’s appetite in every sense was thriving. Everybody loved Rohit. The networks were in talks with him to do a sitcom along the lines of Everybody Loves Raymond with him. Yet Rohit refused, saying he didn’t see himself wearing a suit episode after episode. He then quipped that he was far from ‘The complete man’. He was more, ‘The Compete Man’.

That Rohit was. He was on top of his game. Finally, commentators were not alluding to his talent. He was the finished article. 

Yet this morning, Rohit felt like a finished article.

He had seen his fellow teammates threaten to burn out. He had seen the great Virat Kohli plummet. Day after day, the same questions, the century count. Rohit did believe that Virat will be back – he backed him openly. If anything, Rohit backed his mates to a fault. Probably for this, Rohit’s mates loved him. They loved to hang with him, and go out eating with him – even if it meant breaking a Covid protocol or two – his mates knew, Rohit was one of them. 

Now leave alone looking away from that vada pav, Rohit didn’t feel like going out dining with his mates. He saw his good mates languish. The players he had openly backed were going through tough times; whether it was Dinesh Karthik or Rishabh Pant or Yuzvendra Chahal. Thankfully he thought Shubman Gill was truly back in the mix. 

Not unlike Kohli, his own century drought was bothering him. When that elusive century did come, he was not his usual self in the post-match – nearly snappy, using lame statistics to strengthen his case.

The 2023 IPL season was bleak. This was his fifth straight season with a strike rate in the 120s. Few knew that his IPL career strike rate was a tad under 130. For everyone, he was Captain Marvellous. The Hitman. These brandings were getting to him. Secretly he longed for the challenge when he was mocked as Nohit Sharma. 

In the last two seasons, his average had been less than 20 – not just that, his strike rates had been in the 120s. When Rohit thought of this, he would mock himself, “Do the math, Hitman”. It appeared he now had the most ducks in the IPL. He secretly hated stats, now more than ever. 

But then Rohit put on his thinking cap. He actually had one that he treasured. It was a gift from a loved one. Putting on that thinking cap, Rohit reassured himself, “Why am I taking it out on the vada pav and punishing myself, I’m working out more so I can eat it”. Rohit ordered a vada pav in his most demanding captain’s voice: “Ek lana woh apna item” 

He then thought of Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, and the injuries that had laid siege on the team. He then thought of that famous Test series Down Under; he felt good that Ajinkya Rahane was back in the mix. “If Jinks can get his appetite back then I can too!”. 

Suddenly, Rohit started laughing and mocking the little girl sitting by his side. Suddenly, he was the happiest man in the world. 

(However plausible this may sound, this is a work of fiction)

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