Australia v India, 2nd Twenty20, Melbourne February 2, 2012

Can Rohit Sharma script a happy ending?

Comebacks, disappointments and an unending wait - on this tour and beyond, Rohit Sharma's story has been a suspenseful one

Virat Kohli made for fascinating viewing in the Test series. He was a man with limited time - at least, so it seemed to outsiders. He fought hard, was heckled by crowds, responded in a manner that brought him sanction; his batting improved, he got into verbal tussles with the opposition; in press conferences he questioned the question marks against him.

Kohli lived his struggle out in the open. Just as fascinating, off the field, was the life of Rohit Sharma. He came to Australia, the country of his Emerging Player tours, the country where he first announced himself as a proper international batsman four years ago, as someone who hadn't done his gifts justice, as someone who had mended ways to be handed a second chance. Despite being the most naturally gifted of the younger crop of batsmen in India, he wasn't part of the World Cup triumph.

That hurt. Rohit came back last year a fitter man, a better fielder, and did well enough to be Man of the Series in two ODI series against West Indies. Despite his first show, Rohit wasn't taken to England to play Tests. And when he landed for the ODIs, having spent time in India waiting for his next chance, the first ball he faced ended his tour. He came back with a broken finger, got fit again, did well in the ODIs again, scored runs in the Ranji Trophy, and that's where the new dream began, with his getting picked for the Tests in Australia.

Rohit would have probably prepared himself to miss out on the first Test. However, as the series progressed, another fascinating story began parallel to that of Kohli's. Of a young man trying to come to terms with not being considered good enough for a side that was losing match after match. For eight innings, India persisted with the same personnel and same batting order for the same results.

In the training nets, you could see on Rohit's face the whole story. Four or five days before each Test he would be enthusiastic in the nets, having long hits. As we would get closer to yet another Test, the enthusiasm would slowly wane, and he would be reduced to bowling more than batting on the eve of the match. You could tell from his face he was not playing. He would have had memories coming back when Wriddhiman Saha played the Adelaide Test. In February 2010, Saha made his Test debut in a match that Rohit was going to play but for an injury during the warm-ups five minutes before the toss. Now Saha was playing a Test Rohit had reason to believe he should have played.

All the while experts and fans couldn't work out why he didn't get a chance even in Adelaide. Without having played a game, in a way Rohit's stock kept going up, but not in a desirable manner. You don't want to be the victim; in fact you want to guard against any such feeling even if you are one. It is difficult to know how Rohit felt through the previous month, sitting on the sidelines, getting his hopes up and then not making it.

Whichever way he felt about it would have become worse on Wednesday night, in the first Twenty20 international on the tour. So much build-up, such a long wait, and he gets an offbreak first up that hits his pad outside the line of leg and then hits the stumps. It is easy, at such times, to fall into a trap where you start thinking that you have run into some bad misfortune. That, as some of the Indian players have been repeating, the time is bad.

Barring injuries, though, Rohit will get enough time over the next month to fight these early signs of trouble. He will get time to express himself, and show what improvements he has come back with. It will be an important month for him. Winds of change are threatening to blow for the Test side. He will want to do well in the ODIs so that he is the first new man in. He has the talent, he has done it before, which can equally be said of India's ODI side. Like the team, where he is mentally is the big question. Over the next month, if you want to follow a good story, don't look away from Rohit.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 3, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Really it's going to be break or make series for rohit and raina. Rohit has talent but his lazyness and his knack of playing loose shots at wrong time are the reasons for not getting his talent approval done on field. He should correct those errors and excel in this CB series. If not it doesnt matter if he is ready for test cricket or not.

  • Dummy4 on February 3, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    @cricfan....if u say rohit throws his wicket away, I wonder what you think of sehwag, who barring those few innings where he turns the match on its head, has always gotten out to bad balls...n yet he is considered the star of the team...rohit deserves a chance in the least n im sure he ll prove to be a good player wit time.

  • Girik on February 3, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    Rohit in the end wasn't needed for the second T20. We will wait and see in the tri-series to see if he improves on his duck.

  • Dummy4 on February 3, 2012, 10:09 GMT

    What a direct hit by Rohit..:)

  • Aidan on February 3, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    no... ... .... .... .... ...

  • Dummy4 on February 3, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    Rohit is a very very talented player and he has already proved that he deserves more chances than he has got..and after what our good old boys have done in England and Australia..we certainly need a change..and Rohit holds the first spot in the line..

  • Ravi on February 3, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    We all are singing the same thing why rohit not in the team but no one even discuss about robin uthappa,robin is great hitter of the ball than rohit and clean hitter too.when yuvraj is not around we need uthappa desperately.we can't judje the batsman from only one match.

  • Sathish on February 3, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    Dinesh singh is absolutely right and as well Itchy also right - rsurya wrote it very sarcastically.

  • karthik on February 3, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    I have said it before and I will say it again. I believe Rohit Sharma is too casual to be successful. He has some really good strokes, but he also has the ability to throw it all away with a silly shot. He showed some application against WI in the ODI series last year, but I have my doubts as to whether he can replicate that against good teams and good bowling. Compared to someone like Kohli who is a fighter, Rohit Sharma tends to give it all away too easily. I wish he comes good. I wish he fulfils his potential. But at the moment I am not too hopeful. I would rather have Rahane or Pujara in his place, at least in tests and ODIs.

  • Dummy4 on February 3, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    Rohit. I believe in you. I know that of all the people reading this article, you surely would get the news how bad everyone is thinking about the way you play, your misfortune. Its one of the worst phases of your life when you have the talent and you see players less than your standard be selected. I believe in the fact that you are a cricketer of the highest calibre. Faith can move mountains, have faith in yourself, Australia is the best place, I know to exorcise your inner demons first, the australians second and the naysayers at last. Believe in yourself, make your chances count, for even a carbon rock requires the highest of pressure to be a diamond. Believe that you can hit the next century, believe that australians are just another bunch of players, maybe they are baying for your blood, but be on guard, use your bat as your weapon and the mind as your hands driving them to glory..I am with you Rohith. I believe in U even if they are 1000 others who say that you are not worth it

  • No featured comments at the moment.