June 7, 2010

Beyond the Blues

India need Rohit Sharma to live up to his promise

Aakash Chopra
Rohit Sharma drives through the off side, Zimbabwe v India, Tri-series, 1st ODI, Bulawayo, May 28, 2010
Have Rohit Sharma's performances finally begun to do justice to his considerable talent?  © AFP
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Has Rohit Sharma finally arrived? That's the question people and pundits ask every time Rohit plays one of his trademark brilliant knocks - mostly in the IPL. But a good knock, or a couple of good knocks, are always followed by a series of low scores and the same people who hailed him start baying for his blood. To be fair to the critics, they're absolutely right in expecting talent to be complimented by performances on a consistent basis.

We all know Rohit is a special talent and seems to have what it takes to succeed at the highest level. But sadly he's let his contemporaries steal a march over him. For way too long he's remained a future prospect, showing only trailers of what, perhaps, could be in store. In my humble opinion, talent without performances is as good or bad as having no talent at all.

Now with two consecutive centuries in the tri-series in Zimbabwe, he has settled the debate for a while. Yes, the runs came against lesser teams but his nemesis was never the opposition but the challenge within. He always looked at ease against the best of bowlers, pace and spinners alike, both at the international level and the IPL. He seems to have more time than the rest to tackle rapid pace and the technical know-how to handle quality spin.

I spoke to a current international bowler recently and he was all praise for Rohit. According to him, Rohit is blessed with a sense of timing and has more time than most people in the current Indian team. Coming from a successful international bowler, the observation carried a lot of weight. Ever wondered what exactly is having more time? Cricket, apart from bowling, is mostly about receiving. You have to be at the right place at the right time to receive the ball and then react appropriately. If you're even a micro-second late, everything goes awry. Rohit gets into the right positions quickly to execute shots perfectly, which is why he's never off-balance or hurried.

It was never the talent which was questioned but the temperament. His shot selection has often left a lot to be desired and caused his downfall more often than wicket-taking deliveries. Another incident involving another international fast bowler comes to mind. The bowler in question was starting his new spell and bowled a loosener which was deposited into the stands straight over his head. As expected the bowler cursed himself, only it wasn't exactly for bowling a loosener but for forgetting the strength of the man on the opposite end. He knew Rohit would pounce on anything loose regardless of it being the start of a new spell. That's a big compliment coming from an international bowler.

This shows that Rohit has an almost Sehwag-like faith in his abilities and gives little importance to what is being dished out to him. But since every coin has two sides, this has often led to his downfall. His exceptional ability to hit even the good balls takes him ahead of himself and he tries one too many. Result-- a long walk back to the pavilion. Hopefully he's cracked the code for the Men in Blue need him, as much as he needs them, to make a formidable test team even after the 'fab four' retire.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Abhik on (June 28, 2010, 12:48 GMT)

Rohit Sharma could easily be the next Mark Waugh - supremely talented but without the application and respect for the opposition to be a true great. But at least Mark Waugh played more than a hundred tests and won many of them single handedly. Rohit has a long way to go to get there especially in a fickle system like India.

Posted by Raghu on (June 11, 2010, 16:37 GMT)

I still do not think, that Rohit Sharma has arrived. For a person with oodles of talent as him, he is far too irresponsible. No wonder for one who idolizes Yuvraj Singh, who himself is a sort of cult figure in this sort of things. I always love to watch players who play shots easily without much of fuss. Rohit is definitely one of them. But I dont think he still has realized how important is for him to perform and not reston laurels that he had once earned in the IPLs. Just take a look at the the probable Line up for the WC if UV and Rohit fugure on the card. Viru,SRT,Gauti,Raina,UV,Rohit,Dhoni,Bhaj,Zhir,PK,Nehra/mishra.... looking at the batting line up. If everyone is abt 80% then the opposition teams have somethin really hot on their menu. SO, I AM PRAYING THAT UV AND ROHIT GET WELL SOON SPARE INDIA FROM DISAPPOINTMENT AT HOME.Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Posted by Yatheendran on (June 11, 2010, 16:00 GMT)

Rohit is a combination of Dravid and Tendulkar, technique and stroke play.If selectors persist with him even if he fails one or two he can become the mainstay of Indain Batting

Posted by Rohan on (June 11, 2010, 3:18 GMT)

I think Rohit Sharma is at a stage in his career like Yuvraj was before the Natwest trophy. As the performance came, so did the belief. However the most important thing is a sense of responsibility that drives a cricketer to finish the match when he is in control of the game.This has been shown by Dhoni, time and again in the ODI's specially. He finishes the game , which is more difficult than just blasting a few shots that entertain the spectators.Seemingly Rohit has found form, but what he really needs to do is keep it going before some other player replaces him.

Posted by Abhijit_59274 on (June 10, 2010, 20:14 GMT)

Its gud to see Rohit playing well. But its still a long way to go.And he is bit unlucky because Captain Dhoni never trusted him.One or two failure will give Dhoni a chance to drop him from playing XI.He should have been playing under Ganguly who recognizes true talent and support them. Sehwag , Yuvraj , Bhajji are great examples.Dhoni seems to have more trust on bit and piece players like Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan and we have already seen the result in T20 World Cup. These bit and piece players can be good in India against weaker teams but against world class team in sporting pitches they will always struggle. Hope the selector will keep Rohit for test series as well. He will be the man to watch when India will tour South Africa this year end. I really feel he should be the man to bat at no 6 for Indian test team.

Posted by sriram on (June 10, 2010, 17:10 GMT)

Rohit is such a delight to watch. With the ability to pick the ball early he has also got all the strokes that a great batsman should have. Coming to the mental aspect of the game he doesn't succumb to pressure as you can see from his performances in the Ipl. So I believe that it is the shot selection he has to work on so that he can thrive playing against the best in cricket. Keep going Rohit!!!

Posted by N Sairam on (June 10, 2010, 13:49 GMT)

Rohit Sharma is the poor mans Inzamam-ul-haq. There is a lot of similarities in their stroke making as well as bulky build. It is time he improved his consistency and ability to stretch his twenties and thirties to eighties and hundreds.

Posted by Gajen on (June 10, 2010, 12:35 GMT)

@krishnaswami at June 7, 2010 12:45 PM Foe everyone who says "Sachin does not have a single world championship title under his belt after 20 years of playing cricket", for your kind information, cricket is a team game unlike tennis or golf. Please refrain from writing negative things against our one of the cricket legends the world ever seen or may not ever see again. Rohit is a good batsman by technique but he proved he is very inconsitent. Unless he proves his commitment, I dont think he will continue longer in the team.

Posted by SAHIR on (June 10, 2010, 10:38 GMT)

Well here we go again,i think this is the inborn problem of indians hyping things up,two consecutive centuries & india have found the star who is here to stay for 10 years,give me a break. He is averaging in early 30s & only thing he is gaining is weight & that too rapidly.Performing isn IPL is only thing he may be can do but international cricket is not his cup of tea, it will be proved come asia cup.

Posted by prakash on (June 10, 2010, 7:38 GMT)

Ian Chappel was praising rohit to no ends throughout his innings against australia in T20 when he made 70 odd runs and others were blown away. He was commenting something like this ' Go sonny go. Prove to the selectors you are way better than others'

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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