India v West Indies, 1st Test, Kolkata, 2nd day

'I knew there will be a time when the runs will flow' - Rohit

Sidharth Monga at Eden Gardens

November 7, 2013

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Rohit Sharma drives down the ground, India v West Indies, 1st Test, Kolkata, 2nd day, November 7, 2013
Rohit Sharma when asked to rate his ODI double century against his ton on Test debut: "Both these innings are very close to my heart. Let's hope that we can get into a good position tomorrow, and then I'd be more happy." © BCCI
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In less than a week, Rohit Sharma has joined most of India's batting elite. On Saturday in Bangalore, he said hello to Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in the ODI double-century club, hitting 16 sixes in the innings.

Five days later, in Kolkata, he took 165 deliveries before he even lofted the ball in the air, and joined Sourav Ganguly, Sehwag, Gundappa Vishwanath, Mohammad Azharuddin and recently Shikhar Dhawan as those with a century on Test debut. What makes this innings really special is that he has been yearning for the chance in Tests for a few years now, coming close - he was once listed to play in 2010 but injured himself moments before the toss - but not getting to put that white India shirt on. However, he couldn't say what satisfied him more: the Bangalore double or this century on debut when India were struggling at 82 for 4 in response to West Indies' 234.

"I cannot really say," Rohit said. "That was a 200, really special. And this is even more special because it's a Test hundred on debut. See, anywhere you get a hundred, it's very special. And on top of that if your team wins, that's like the icing on the cake. We've got to wait another three days to see what happens in the game. Both these innings are very close to my heart. With that innings in Bangalore we won the series, and here... let's hope that we can get into a good position tomorrow, and then I'd be more happy."

This has been an exceptional year for Rohit. He has led Mumbai Indians to the IPL and Champions League T20 titles, has transformed his career by opening in ODIs, and now has had a dream Test debut. This time last year he was licking his wounds from a disastrous ODI series in Sri Lanka, which somehow cost him the Test place that should have been his after the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. How did he turn the corner?

"Being a sportsman, there is a lot of inspiration to take from so many sportspersons from around the world," Rohit said. "You look at Michael Hussey, he made his debut when he was 30. There are a lot of other cricketers who had to wait for their opportunity. I'm no different, I'm one of them. I knew once I got an opportunity, I'd try and make the most of it. I never wanted to put my head down, I believe that if you have the ability, the talent, if you know you can do it, there is no need to worry about anything.

"There was this phase when things were not going my way. But I never put my head down, I just wanted to focus because I knew there will be a time when the runs will flow. I just waited, waited... kept working on my game very hard. Yes, today I'm really happy with what's happened."

This was not a freebie century from 400 from 4. Rohit had to fight hard for every single of his initial runs. India were struggling, the ball was turning, and West Indies were on top when Virat Kohli was the fifth man out. "See, they were bowling quite well when we lost five early wickets," Rohit said. "We wanted to build partnerships then, but they were bowling very well so we just thought we've got to respect these bowlers who were bowling in tandem. The five-ten overs of Shillingford and the bowler at the other end were very important, so we just thought that we needed to stick there, and that once we get in, we can capitalise later when the bowlers get tired. That's exactly what happened at the end of the day."

He spoke about the innings with the same maturity that he played it with. "They were varying their pace so when I and MS [Dhoni] were batting runs were not really coming so easily," Rohit said. "So we just had a plan of negotiating these overs and as I said, we had to stick [to] whatever we'd decided and then capitalise when the day was coming to an end. I knew this exactly because the outfield here is very fast so you just need to play your normal cricket. After MS got out, me and Ashwin had a really good partnership. At Eden Gardens, if you just can manage those few initial overs, thereafter it becomes... I wouldn't say easy but you get a lot of run-scoring opportunities." And Rohit knows from personal experience. He made his first-class debut here and scored a century. He started captaining Mumbai Indians here, and won the IPL final here.

The same maturity was evident when he was asked to talk about the earlier near-misses. "Whenever it happens, you've got to be proud, you've got to take that," Rohit said. "I was really disappointed with what happened in 2010, but now I just wanted to focus on what was happening at the moment, so my focus was on this Test match, and I was really happy.

Whether it came after three years, it doesn't matter. Finally, it came. So I'm really happy. I was really happy yesterday, and obviously on this magnificent day today, I'm happier. But it's not done, we've got a game on our hands. So we just need to be focused. Tomorrow would be another crucial day. If we can bat till about lunch, maybe a few more overs after lunch, we can get some good lead and try and put them under pressure."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by JustIPL on (November 9, 2013, 17:36 GMT)

Tendulkar can retire on 199 emulating the great don who had an average of 99 but he has to decide as still he has a chance and if he gets out for cheap in his last test then it will be a sorry tale.

Posted by CricketFanIndUS on (November 9, 2013, 16:46 GMT)

Fantastic Rohit for the 177 runs and the MOM award on debut! The way he was playing on the third day, a double century was inevitable, but for the incorrect lbw, but still the second best debut for India is good enough(in terms of stats). Good luck in the second test as early reports indicate that it will be a slightly better batting pitch than this one. All the best in your development. Even the greatest modern day batsmen had to learn a lot after breaking into test cricket. His stellar domestic first class record does not preclude the need for this learning. This goes for all our young batsmen: Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, and Rohit. They have so much to learn still to stamp their authority, learning to handle different types of wickets and conditions, learning to play overseas, learning to master the top bowlers in international cricket. Of course they will face lots of tests and some failures, but sensible fans will be able to see through that and enjoy the maturing of our young batsmen.

Posted by swarzi on (November 8, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

Dhruv Sharma, I know that it's school boy cricket/bowling that Sachin really loves. However, I was speaking about serious professional cricket. It's the Bangladeshi school boys he really wanted BCCI to invite as usual, for him to get a good score for this final milestone of his career. But it would have been too glaring, so they brought the next easiest hurdle - West Indies. If the number of times I see 300 made in school boy cricket, it was enough to compare my colleagues with Bradman, I would have had more than a dozen Bradman friends! But fortunately, they had to make such huge scores against Ambrose and Walsh and Patterson, etc, which would still not have made them Bradmansque. They still had to do it against Flintoff and Harmison, or Mc Grath and Warne, etc.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (November 8, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

As an Aussie, I've always been somewhat bemused by the reaction towards Rohit Sharma. He always looked a very fine player to me. I sure wish Australia had someone like him to bring into Test side !

Posted by AnyoneButVettel on (November 8, 2013, 16:38 GMT)

Any player has to prove his mettle both at home and - especially for an Indian - abroad and against all kinds of opposition. Rohit and Shami have started on a positive note, but let's not get carried away just yet. The two things that can't be stressed enough is that these performances were a) at home & b) against a team in the bottom half of the rankings table. No doubt the runs still have to be scored and balls bowled in the "right areas" and credit to the debutants for doing that. But, they can only become superstars if they perform abroad, if not, we don't have to look further than Suresh Raina to visualize their future. As someone else commented I'd rather have anyone replace Ishant (even his own granma) than see him continue in Indian colours.

Posted by Harmony111 on (November 8, 2013, 11:22 GMT)

@swarzi:

Thanks for your comments.

Sachin has no FC 300 & took ~500 innings to get his 200 yet has most runs, most 100s in Tests & in ODIs & what not. And so, I can't imagine where Rohit will reach. Thanks a lot for giving us a smile & elating us even as the Great man is about to retire.

An anecdote about Gandhi is quite relevant here. Once Gandhi was traveling by train when a Britisher boarded the train at a station & entered his cabin. When he saw Gandhi there, out of contempt, he wrote a few abusive words on some pieces of paper & asked Gandhi to read them. Gandhi, cool as he was, read them, threw the papers out of the window but kept the pin that was used to collate the papers & said he kept what was useful & threw what was useless.

On similar lines, I will say that since you are saying that Rohit has a better record than Sachin than what Sachin had at a similar point then we all should be very very happy after we can ignore the 'bad' part of your comment.

Posted by Naresh28 on (November 8, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

@hassan khan - He's already played outside INDIA. The Champions Trophy? So has the whole Indian team.

Posted by Naresh28 on (November 8, 2013, 10:20 GMT)

@mohammed - come into india and we will see how good your team is? It works both ways.

Posted by veerang on (November 8, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

@ Hassan Khan,it's ok to be disappointed, but don't be jealous.

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