Australia in India 2013-14

Rohit produces long-overdue winner

Rohit Sharma's career, so far, is short on performances that are proportionate to his talent, but in Jaipur he showed that the support he received from several quarters over the past few years is not wholly unjustified

Abhishek Purohit

October 18, 2013

Comments: 48 | Text size: A | A

Rohit Sharma is elated after scoring his first century in three years, India v Australia, 2nd ODI, Jaipur, October 16, 2013
A weight has presumably been lifted off Rohit Sharma's talented shoulders © BCCI
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"I think more than me you guys were getting frustrated that I wasn't getting a hundred," Rohit Sharma told journalists at the press conference after hitting an unbeaten 141 in India's highest successful chase, in Jaipur. Surely, Rohit had to be joking. The release of his own frustration had been telecast to the world a little while previously, when he'd reached his first ODI century in three-and-a-half years and 58 innings. His celebrations featured a couple of wild screams followed by plenty of aggressive bat-pointing topped up by a volley of swear words. While there are some who have wanted to see Rohit succeed, one can't imagine journalists having displayed such heightened emotions on seeing him get to three figures for only the third time in 104 matches.

Rohit followed that gem with this. "I can see a lot of smiles here [from journalists], which is really heartening." Implicit in this sentence was the acknowledgment of support. Of course, if you go through an entire year averaging 12.92, as he did in 2012, after being touted as the next great Indian batsman for years, you will have your place in the side questioned. But on the whole, Rohit can never say he hasn't had support from most quarters throughout his six-year career. Especially from the selectors, the captain and the team management.

At times, this support has gone to ridiculous lengths. Specialist spinners have been pushed out to play his replacement and keep him as well in the team. Team-mates have often come up with superlatives to voice their backing for the man considered by them to be the best of the current generation of Indian batsmen. "He is the best talent India's ever had." "He's the best among us in the nets." "He is the best of the young lot that we have." This final endorsement came in Jaipur from the man who blitzed the fastest hundred by an Indian in the same match.

One wonders what Rohit would have felt listening to this latest instance of reaffirmation from Virat Kohli, who has 16 ODI hundreds compared to Rohit's three, who averages 50-plus - Rohit barely tallied 30 before he was made to open. One wonders what he's felt over the years listening to such statements, reposing more and more faith in him while his international career failed to take off to the heights all those words alluded to. Did he feel he was letting everyone down? Did he feel weighed down by all this expectation? Did he have the same kind of belief in himself that others had in him? Did he feel he was his own biggest enemy?

It was not that he was not trying, at least in practice. As he said after the Jaipur match, he had always been training hard. The effort had always been there. He put himself through a strenuous fitness regime after missing out on the 2011 World Cup squad. And then came an utterly forgettable 2012. Did he, in some corner of his mind, start thinking that he might not really be all he was talked up to be?

For someone afforded so much leeway, he had started to have the look of a man perpetually playing for his place in the side each time he went out to bat. And then, he started to open. Slowly, the scores started coming. A watchful 40 here, a promising 60 there. When questioned about his falling strike-rate, he would repeatedly say that as an ODI opener, it is difficult to face two new balls. But there was Shikhar Dhawan at the other end, charging fast bowlers and smashing boundaries as if that was the easiest thing for an opener to do.

Rohit dearly needed this century. Fifties and forties would have kept him in the side, but they would also have needed periodic declarations from his team-mates of how the big innings that would lead to a flood was just around the corner. This 141 not out will help Rohit make peace with himself, quell the turmoil that surely must have been raging inside. Perhaps it was that turmoil that released itself during that celebration. Perhaps we will see a different Rohit from now on. The one his supporters feel has been hiding behind a fa├žade all this while. If indeed the veil has been cast away, Rohit could do worse than allow himself to slip behind it again.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Kumaravel0717125 on (October 24, 2013, 8:35 GMT)

Well done Rohit. Scroing big numbers always not possible. he scored some numbers when the team needs. I think some of the bigger players also when come to 5th or 6th in Innings their average low only. after they started carrier as Opener their average are High. Surely Rohit will be a one of the member in this. I ll pray god to show some exceptional batting from Him. Always i love him batting style and pakka time too. and He is also good fileder too. All the best for ur carrier.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 7:19 GMT)

@ abhi_242671 Great observation man!!!!.. Rohith Sharma is the best young talent India has got right now!!!.. I think he is even better than Virat Kohli.. But his real problem is his attitude towards his game... Take a look at his first class average.. Its better than that of Shikhar Dhawan... But Dhawan and Kohli has got right attitude and they are mentally stronger than Rohith.. That is the only area Rohith should work on.. And I think he is best suited for the middle order slot than that of an opener.

Posted by saipavankumar on (October 19, 2013, 5:54 GMT)

I see many people commenting about Rohit's century and say he can play only on flat tracks. And the next thing they do is compare him with Virat Kohli. No doubt Virat Kohli is a match winner and has 16 centuries. But out of those 16 centuries, 12 were on flat subcontinent pitches. The rest four were in eng(vs eng), aus(vs sri lanka), zim(vs zim) and wi(vs wi). So does it mean Virat is a flat track bully? All guys rate even Virat's half centuries as match winning knocks too but what about Rohit's many half centuries in wi, aus, sa, eng? Yes, Rohit is mentally a bit fragile than Kohli and a bit lazy too but is coming of age. Not every person can be the same. Some people need less time, some people need more time. Now that he has settled in a single position like Kohli we might see consistency and if he fails even in this position, the next option can be brought in.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 5:13 GMT)

@ irishhawks clam down mate !!! appreciate when somebody has hit century !! we can wait till he gets a chance to play in Johannesburg or in Perth !! just to remind you he recently did well in ICC champions trophy that was in England !!!

Posted by Mushtanda on (October 19, 2013, 4:47 GMT)

This is superb writing! Veiled but incisive!

Posted by Mehtasboy on (October 19, 2013, 4:42 GMT)

I see you hundered again virat kohli

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 4:24 GMT)

Kohli - through a mix of skill, focus and pure ambition has willed his technique and the results have taken him far ahead of the pack at the moment. The inevitable slump will come, but he's in a league of his own. Raina is mentally strong, but has obvious chinks in his technique. Dhawan is in an extended purple patch, hungry after missing out on years. In comparison, Rohit is blessed with naturally good technique, his first class records suggests he isn't afraid of graft either. He is one of the best natural players of pace and spin. But his mind has lacked focus, and lately his form has only made it more uncertain. If he can tap into it now, this innings may yet become his freedom from shackles moment. Too soon to give a verdict on his career, just best of luck!

Posted by Alexk400 on (October 19, 2013, 3:48 GMT)

Now rohit reserved seat in team XI until he retires. What a life.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 3:33 GMT)

Rohit is in Dhoni's good books and so he gets chances to play over and over again. There are so many talented batsmen who are ignored because Dhoni was willing to wait for 3 and 1/2 years and 58 innings for his boy Rohit to score a ton. The favouritism is just too evident. Perhaps in the history of Indian cricket, no other cricketer has been given so many chances. Finally he scores a ton and that too in one of the flattest pitches on the planet. Way to go Dhoni. You have said Rohit deserves more chances. I can't understand why.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 3:00 GMT)

I am going to stick my neck out and say that if he does not get at least another two centuries in this series he must be forgotten.. This I say because he is the most talented batsman in the current Indian team barring Yuvi of course when he gets going.. But he needs to get the talent converting into runs.. And for the length of the rope he has been given since 2010, three centuries in a series should be a given expectation.. M. Vijay did that with the limited opportunities he got in the test arena.. It is only fair that this man delivers too without making wisecracks about how we expect more of him than he himself does..

Posted by abhi_242671 on (October 19, 2013, 2:20 GMT)

Some players get extended because of the early promise they show in big games. In 2000 ICC Champions trophy QF Yuvraj played a match winning 84 against Australian attack comprised of Lee , Warne , Mcgrath , Gillepsie. Even after repeated failure after that he was persisted and we all know the results. Same with Rohit. In his initial few matches he showed his capability in touch matches.In ICC T20 quarterfinal match against SA on a gree Kingsmead pitch he scored a vital 50 when India were 4 down for 50 odd runs. After few days he was one of the main architect for India winning the VB series in Australia for the first time. He faced likes of Brett Lee with ease (In the same 2007 VB series Manoj Tiwary also made his debut but he was all at sea against the pace of Lee. ). That's why inspite of indifferent form in few series later on Rohit was persisted with. In between he keep on showing his class but consistency was lacking. But now it looks he is back on track. We should support him.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 2:15 GMT)

On a flat track, a leg spinner is a better option than an off-spinner like Ashwin, especially against right handers. Mishra possesses a very good googly too!

Posted by jimbond on (October 19, 2013, 1:20 GMT)

The problem is, you criticize him when he does not perform, and then you also criticize him when he performs. And I wonder who are the 'great' talents who have been pushing for his place in the team over the past couple of years. Manoj Tiwari has been unfortunate in getting injured at key times, but has often created a doubt about his ability to play faster bowlers. Murali Vijay is a flat track bully- even here failing against reasonable bowling, and Dinesh Karthik has wasted more chances than Rohit Sharma. Rayudu- yes, has not been given chances, but has not exactly excelled at the first class level. Badrinath could have been considered in place of Sharma, but he also (like Rohit Sharma) may be more suited for tests. The fact is, Sharma has been lucky because in the past two years, not too many batsmen have been pushing for selection.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 0:42 GMT)

'rohit has played 100 games and only now has he scored a century'. Suresh Raina has played 170 odd ODI's and he is yet to tackle the short ball, also averages only 2 averages more than him. So he is delivering and Rohit isn't and he is the weak link. Same thing about yuvraj aswell. Cmon guys be reasonable. @kingowl - BTW, the pitch in ODI 1 was even flatter. How come India only made 230 odd. Why did the middle order struggle to get bat on bowl at the death. Rohit's problem was not his skill but converting starts to big scores. Not that is resolved his best is yet to come. After being a minnow basher up to 2012, rohit has now emerged in 2013, doing well against good bowling attacks.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 0:40 GMT)

Despite his inherent talents and the heroics in the nets, Ro-hit was almost a No-hit in most of the internationals.

No-hit became his normal self Ro-hit in a leap over one non-leap year 2012. The last innings was a True-hit. As Pu-Rohit wrote in this piece, Ro-hit really needed this one.

Many may leap into the wrong conclusion, that he is the ideal man to open! He is true No.4. Elevating him to opening had two effects. (1) A great gesture of confidence. and (2) More time at the crease , before he can open up. For heavens sake please accept it as a tactic which worked.

Now, if you are a non-biased selector, the "true" opener for short form, as a perfect foil for Dhawan, is the "true" No. 3 for tests: Pujara.

For the next ODI world cup, we should start firming up Dhawan & Pujara (with Rahane as the backup) as the openers and Kohli as No.3. Rohit is ideal a for No.4. Yuvi for No.5. Raina, No.6. Dhoni No.7. Jadeja , No7.

The last FOUR slots(the bowlers), is still in a flux !

Posted by anuajm on (October 18, 2013, 20:36 GMT)

Good that Rohit made this century, but he needs to demonstrate consistency now else no point in scoring one century in 25 matches that also as an opener. There is no comparison b/w him and Kohli now, Kohli is on the verge of entering greats in ODI's and the way he is playing, he might become one of the greatest ODI batsman of all time. Dhawan has already scored 3 centuries in the last 4-5 months. Unless he becomes consistent, he alongwith Ishant are the major weak links now in the team..

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (October 18, 2013, 19:08 GMT)

I still remember how he struggled in the last tour to SA. He had no time to play his shots. Pujara too. Only Kohli looked he could adapt. May be Dhawan would. But Rohit? I don't see him succeed. He is lazy. He doesn't have the natural aggression and competitiveness to succeed.

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 18:58 GMT)

he got more chances than any one. there are many talented players around then why only rohit got that much chances. yes he is improved recently but with support of many. a batsman should get runs; thats all, the style and elegance are just for entertainment. his style resembles vvs laxman and he is good in facing fast bowlers but lacks consistany. if he is consistent enough then he becomes asset to team.

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 18:26 GMT)

Of course, having scored 16 centuries already, Kohli affords to consider himself a senior and call Rohit the best of young lot they have. You see, he didn't say he's the best among us. ;)

Posted by KUTEPRASAD on (October 18, 2013, 18:14 GMT)

Although it was a flawless inning I am still doutfull of rohit.I hope this is not his usual ONE INNING-IN-PER 15 MATCHES!!

Posted by samincolumbia on (October 18, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

Too much hype and the Mumbai lobby working OT promoting him as the next best thing since Sachin! Won't be surprised if he gets out cheaply for the rest of the series and then scores a century one year later and the same cycle repeats!

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 18:08 GMT)

what about manoj tiwary he secured century ! and got only 2 mathces after dat !!! is dat fair ? i just want to ask mr purohit! any indian domestic can score three centuries wid dis avg in india cricket after playing over 100 intl matches!

Posted by strikeforce2003 on (October 18, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

Rohit Sharma has found form, though at the crease needs time to stick to show..Kohli is the best bat of India so is Shikar, what makes Kohli better is that he needs to stick less at the crease to show..he's the next guy chasing records

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 17:11 GMT)

I still maintain, Rohit is a better No.4 than opener. I'd prefer to have Rohit come at No.4 and have Raina open with Shikhar. No.6 and No.1/No.2 are very similar. At No.1/No.2 you have the mandatory powerplay, at No.6 you have the batting powerplay. Both go for big shots at those times. So rather than force Raina to build an innings at No.4 and force Rohit to play aggressively at the top, I'd just interchange their roles. Didn't we see Rohit click big time in the IPL/CLT20 at No.4? That is his natural position. I'm sure Raina will excel at the top due to the similar nature (except the new ball). Anyways, wishing the Indian team all the best for the rest of the series!

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 16:53 GMT)

There are several others, much better than him, who should have been given a tenth of chances this guy has been given. If they were, then he wouldnt be playing for India. He is only good for IPL.

Posted by SamRoy on (October 18, 2013, 16:48 GMT)

I will say he has met expectations if he averages 45+ for one year of ODI cricket, he needs to get his strike rate up as well.

Posted by rohan8579 on (October 18, 2013, 16:25 GMT)

Agreed he had a support from every corner in his career....but that support was not blindly given...every cricket expert, team-mate, selectors, managers, coaches, opponents and plenty of T20 scores to support the support he was getting...Yes, the only thing he was lacking is converting his starts into big...but ever since he started Opening which is just last year, his avg is in mid 40's to lower 40's, which is great for any ODI opening batsmen in the world and not just for an Indian...agreed his new partner, Dhawan always (touch wood) starts with Bang and make it big (sometime Huge), but then Both cant attack (not that we would hate it, but one need to be anchor and one need to be attacker), and this way Rohit had / has been doing great...he looks different Rohit, now he has the temperament along with his Natural Talent, which makes him super dangerous of a batsman for opponent bowlers...if you have supported all this while, its only wise to support him more, since he is performing...

Posted by silentstand on (October 18, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

Congrats rohit now keep scoring runs and hundreds.always a joy to watch you bat

Posted by Unmesh_cric on (October 18, 2013, 16:14 GMT)

I am a Rohit Sharma fan and glad to see this article. But I am a bit miffed that none of the Cricinfo writers deemed it necessary to write an article about Ajit Agarkar who announced his retirement..all we saw on cricinfo was a small interview and an article in cricinfo "Inbox" from a reader. Although it's all good to write articles about the current lot, isn't it also equally important to celebrate retirements of past unsung heroes? Agarkar is arguably one of the top 5 ODI bowlers India has produced. Also in an era where rest of the Indian bowlers were less than average fielders, he was the only one who was an excellent out-fielders. Give the man his due. Hope this comment gets posted.

Posted by nmn11 on (October 18, 2013, 16:00 GMT)

Probably we can now see Rohit play with more freedom. He has had a slow strike rate of late, but boy look at some of his inning in IPL or CLT20. I dont think there is any other Indian batsman who could match his strokeplay and elegance. A confidence boost up like this, might give him the assurance he needs. And this Indian side, what to say. Amazing. Kohli, Dhawan and Rohit will surely become the players to watch out for.

Posted by venkateswarlu84 on (October 18, 2013, 15:33 GMT)

Not unjustified !!! ??? are u kidding India??? Dont u think if u give more than 100 ODI(6yrs) chances any other player he would hv done far far better this guy ????

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 15:23 GMT)

This is absolutely rubbish from the all the people who thinks they are pundits of the game. its always easy to sit and pass comment. It is not easy to perform, when u are aware of expectation of a 100 billion on your shoulder. If Rohit had failed then the same people would had responded see he is not good enough to score on flatest of pitch. when he scored a magnificent 100, it is proved that any tom dick or harry could have scored here. stop critizing and support a player, who is slowly but surely proving his worth. If we could get rohit going, then that would be a great benefit to the team. Just like yuvraj, he is a match winner. Just look out the no of matches he had turned in the T20s agaisnt some of the best attacks in the world. One request, if you r not good enough to admire, then just don,t despair anyone. GO AHEAD ROHIT, We wanna see many more such innings from you.

Posted by CherryWood_Champion on (October 18, 2013, 15:22 GMT)

Do not agree with Mr Purohit .... to be fair and frank ... with all due respect to Rohit, I would put his performance as just satisfactory. Agreed he has been scoring in his last 10 to 15 matches. But he needs to score at least 10 more centuries before meeting the expectations ..and to exceed the expectations he should consistently do it across the globe in different conditions.

Posted by irishhawks on (October 18, 2013, 15:21 GMT)

What exactly are all excited about? He scores a ton against depleted Oz attack...thats as toothless as Indian bowling attack on flat pitch..He doest it as rare as Ishant takes five for.... Really can he score these runs in Johannesburg or in Lords or in Perth? Can he score when Ball bounces chest high and swings like boomerang? Can he score as consistently so he can be someone India can look upon him as batsman who is reliable rather than circumspect? Can he raise his hand up and say Im Rohit Sharma and I am profilic scorer?

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 15:18 GMT)

One 100 and he meets the expectations. I could not stop laughing

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (October 18, 2013, 15:18 GMT)

@KingOwl: Yes, but we have had batsmen fail on such 'flat' tracks too !! Your comment is INVALID now.

Posted by hayer on (October 18, 2013, 15:10 GMT)

one hundred on a road can't prove that he is a match winner. I still have doubts about his mental toughness. I will wait and see how he performs in a long run. He took 100+ matches to prove his worth I believe if you give half of the chances to Manoj Tiwari, Pujara, Nayar, Rahne, M Juneja, Badrinath and Raydu they will be proved bigger match winners then Rohit. He is blessed that he is from Mumbai and favourite of Gavaskar, Shastri and Manjrekar and their articles and commentary about him attracts the media attention about him. To me his is not a proved match winner yet.

Posted by cricdick on (October 18, 2013, 14:52 GMT)

Seems some Pakistanis have infiltrated in the moderator boars who allow other Pakistanis to vent their person dislike of some other countries...this is not fair ESPN CRICINO.

Posted by cricdick on (October 18, 2013, 14:51 GMT)

Yes @KingOwl, ...scoring 361 with plenty wkt in hand is really great. Ausies too played on the same wicket....pls do take a break.

Posted by yezdi70 on (October 18, 2013, 14:42 GMT)

Does Rohit really meet expectations? He hit a century on a pitch that resembled an airport runway...and it took him 3 years. I have no doubts about the talent that he has got...however, it needs to be converted to big knocks in the middle and he has pretty much failed.

Posted by bhushanB on (October 18, 2013, 14:35 GMT)

I would not celebrate already.....he made a ton, in a match where three more managed it easily...

I will wait for the day, when he can do this outside of the subcontinent on a testing pitch, when india has lost couple of wickets at the other end...

Well it may take another 6 years, but he has all the support in the world and will surely achieve it some day...

Posted by ODI_BestFormOfCricket on (October 18, 2013, 14:32 GMT)

any other batsman in the world will perform one day if he gets 100+ chance as like rohit got.

Posted by bhushanB on (October 18, 2013, 14:30 GMT)

I cant help but to start liking Abishek.....with the two back to back articles, the first one on Ishant and now this one on Rohit..

Its taken 6 years to question their place in the team, but better late than never.....

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 14:26 GMT)

Well, way to go Rohit. I saw the Pune match in stadium and there were only 2 guys which showed class in their batting even when they were defending the ball : Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. These two guys can keep cricket alive for India for years.

Posted by KingOwl on (October 18, 2013, 14:24 GMT)

Oh give me a break. This hundred opening, and thus with plenty of wickets in hand, on the flattest of flat tracks means absolutely nothing.

Posted by Sir_Ivor on (October 18, 2013, 14:24 GMT)

I think Rohit's best will come out if he is the Captain in any one format. It should be the ODIs to begin with.

Posted by Chak-De-India-Deux on (October 18, 2013, 14:23 GMT)

"My mind is my biggest asset. I expect to win every tournament I play." -Tiger Woods..... with Rohit it's all between his ears. The jury is out on him (though most people have already condemned him and rightly so) but as of today he has not done justice to his talent and at least for me he has been a disappointment so far, his last innings not withstanding. He is 26 so maybe he will redeem himself by the time he is done with his career. Rohit will be the wild-card for India in WC 2015 and as a true blue Indian fan I hope he comes good. He is a delight to watch batting even with his 30's and 40's.

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 14:22 GMT)

Rohit, Man I really want you to perform. You are the only reason for me to watch cricket after the retirement of the GOD.

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