“Trust me, I wasn’t thinking about the double hundred.” Rohit Sharma had a bashful smile as he said this after collecting the player of the match award on Sunday.
In One-day Internationals these days, one starts thinking of a Rohit double century roughly around the time he gets into the 70s. Maybe 80s, but not later than that. In the era gone by, when a player would be batting in the 70s, one wouldn’t even be entirely sure if he’d get to a hundred. But with Rohit, the talk is mostly about a double.
Of course, this talk has more to do with excitement emanating from fans rather than sheer practicality. But it’s there, nonetheless. After all, he has the numbers to rationalise these expectations. Only six men have scored double centuries in ODIs. The other five have one each, Rohit has three. Double centuries in ODIs are his thing.
It isn’t just about his three highest scores in ODIs, though. There’s more to why Rohit has been put on a pedestal. Since getting his first double ton in November, 2013, he has scored the most number of 125-plus scores in the 50-over format. One knows for sure he’s going to reset after getting to the three-figure mark.
125-plus scores since Rohit's first 200
|Player||Number Of 125-plus Scores [Not-outs]||Strike-rate / Sixes||Highest|
|Rohit Sharma||14 ||119.50 / 89||264|
|Virat Kohli||10 ||115.37 / 26||160*|
|Quinton de Kock||6 ||122.67 / 29||178|
|Shikhar Dhawan||6 ||110.95 / 13||143|
|David Warner||6 ||124.24 / 16||179|
To get ‘daddy hundreds’, a batsman needs two attributes – boundary-hitting ability and patience. Rohit has both. Let’s start with the first one. The 32-year-old is known as the ‘Hitman’ for a reason – he’s a serious hitter of the cricket ball.
Scoring big in ODIs is a privilege the top-order batsmen have. The ones who come after them simply aren’t left with enough time. What’s expected of them is to find the boundary at will. And that’s precisely where Rohit stands out – he can start the team’s innings as well as finish it.
The right-hander’s masterclass against Pakistan in the World Cup saw him going past Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the Indian with the most sixes in international cricket. A player usually loosens up after getting to his hundred and often ends up throwing away his wicket in search of quick runs. But Rohit is that rare batsman who’s at his most dangerous after getting to his hundred. One knows that if he cuts loose, he has it in him to go berserk playing risk-free shots.
Rohit's 125-plus knocks since his first 200
|Date||Opposition / Venue||Runs / Balls Faced||4s / 6s|
|Nov 2, 2013||Australia / Bengaluru||209 / 158||12 / 16|
|Nov 13, 2014||Sri Lanka / Kolkata||264 / 173||33 / 9|
|Jan 18, 2015||Australia / Melbourne||138 / 139||9 / 4|
|Mar 19, 2015||Bangladesh / Melbourne||137 / 126||14 / 3|
|Oct 11, 2015||South Africa / Kanpur||150 / 133||13 / 6|
|Jan 12, 2016||Australia / Perth||171* / 163||13 / 7|
|Oct 1, 2017||Australia / Nagpur||125 / 109||11 / 5|
|Oct 29, 2017||New Zealand / Kanpur||147 / 138||18 / 2|
|Dec 13, 2017||Sri Lanka / Mohali||208* / 153||13 / 12|
|Jul 12, 2018||England / Nottingham||137* / 114||15 / 4|
|Oct 21, 2018||West Indies / Guwahati||152* / 117||15 / 8|
|Oct 29, 2018||West Indies / Mumbai||162 / 137||20 / 4|
|Jan 12, 2019||Australia / Sydney||133 / 129||10 / 6|
|Jun 16, 2019||Pakistan / Manchester||140 / 113||14 / 3|
Rohit Sharma has immense talent. He doesn’t like to be reminded of it, though.
“I don’t think I’m talented. This ‘talent’ talk has messed things up for me. All this natural talent, God’s gift and all that that you guys in the media talk and write about is unfair and wrong. I have worked on my batting to get here. Whatever I have achieved is because of my hard work. All these terms like ‘lazy elegance’ have been coined by you guys. Nothing comes naturally to anybody,” he’d said in an interview in 2015.
The Mumbaikar made his international debut in 2007, but it took a long time for him to establish himself at the biggest stage. He’s been around for 12 years now, and the first half of it was spent largely in the shadows. The talent, lazy elegance, extra second to play a shot, and all-round magical strokeplay was always there, but he had the frustrating knack of throwing away his wicket.
Then the year 2013 came around, which brought with it two changes for Rohit. Changes that turned his career on its head. He was made captain of Mumbai Indians, before being asked to open in the Champions Trophy. Both these promotions had one similar effect on him – they taught him how to be responsible.
Captaining an Indian Premier League team and opening the batting for India took away the sense of selfishness one saw in Rohit’s game up until then. He knew he had to step up. The responsibility of guiding a franchise forward along with seeing off the new ball for his country brought about a drastic change in his game and personality. Everything fell into place and the result has been there for all to see. His ODI average in the last six years is double of what it was in the first half of his career.
Rohit Sharma's ODI Stats
|Period||Innings||Runs / Average||100s / 50s|
|June 23, 2007 to June 1, 2013||83||2065 / 30.82||2 / 13|
|June 1, 2013 to June 16, 2019||120||6264 / 60.23||22 / 29|
“He’s got plenty of experience in international cricket now and is a world-class batsman,” Dilip Vengsarkar, the man who was India’s chief selector when Rohit made his debut, told Scroll.in at the launch of the Indian Tennis Cricket League in Mumbai.
“He plays all the shots in the book with authority. And he plays long innings, which is important for him as well as the team. Scoring big is a habit. Scoring hundreds is a habit, scoring 150s is a habit, and scoring double-hundreds is a habit. Earlier, Rohit would score a century and that would be it, but now he gets big ones consistently. That’s a great sign.”
This marriage of talent, patience and hunger is working wonders for Rohit, the fruits of which are being borne by the Indian team at the ongoing World Cup. He may always be s step behind a certain someone in terms of run-scoring, but there’s no denying that Rohit is on his way to greatness. Adds Vengsarkar: “I’d say he’s at the peak of his career. He’s going to be the best for the next three-four years.”