IPL 2013 review May 28, 2013

Rohit's moment of reckoning

Rohit Sharma has always been acknowledged as a man with enormous potential. Can his success as a leader give him confidence as a batsman?

It is hard to believe that Rohit Sharma made his international debut as many as six years ago. When he flies with India's Champions Trophy squad to England on May 29, he'll still be doing so as a batsman with enormous potential, the best of which the world is supposedly yet to see. When Rohit made his India debut, there was no IPL. There is one now, and Rohit led his franchise Mumbai Indians to their maiden title on May 26.

When Gautam Gambhir captained Kolkata Knight Riders to their first IPL trophy in 2012, there were suggestions he was a possible replacement for the struggling MS Dhoni, under whom India had suffered eight successive defeats in overseas Tests. No such outlandish claim can conceivably be made about Rohit's India captaincy abilities at the moment, given that even his place in the side is constantly under scrutiny. What one can talk about however, is the effect of Rohit, the successful IPL captain, on Rohit, the underachieving India batsman.

Talent often does not realise its own worth until it is too late. Virat Kohli, after a few hiccups, has started coaxing consistent performances out of his gifts. Some realisation has dawned on Rohit, too. It was missing a spot in the 2011 World Cup squad that stirred him into a punishing fitness regime. He was so gutted he did not go to the Wankhede Stadium in his hometown Mumbai to watch India play the final. Series-winning performances followed against West Indies, but he slipped into a rut again on tours to Australia and Sri Lanka. Every failure weighed him down further and further, till he seemed to stop enjoying even a casual game of football during practice.

As special as a player might be, he cannot excel until he accepts and starts believing how good he actually is, to the point that the rest of the world, and self-doubt, cease to matter. Virender Sehwag became Virender Sehwag because he batted like only Virender Sehwag could, the world be damned. With Kohli, you can see he's developed a staunch faith in batting like only he can. For all the elegance, you sense Rohit is still too vulnerable to doubt at the international level. He may bat like a dream, but a few failures and the shoulders will slouch even more, and the hangdog expression will reappear.

This IPL, he was in charge of a side comprising almost entirely of internationals, and men such as Sachin Tendulkar. Admittedly, he had an army of legends for a think-tank. While that means he would have never been short of ideas and suggestions, it could also have been detrimental, if he were overawed and hesitant to take his own decisions. Rohit is understood to have listened to everyone, and then gone by his gut feeling.

"I like to keep things simple and trust my instinct," Rohit has said. "We have so many guys who have led their teams in international cricket and they're always there for me with advice and support. I get inputs from all of them but the final decisions are left to me."

'I batted as Rohit Sharma can. I heard Ponting and Tendulkar and Kumble and Wright, and I, Rohit Sharma, took the calls on the field,' he may have thought. Holding your own among such institutions, and having a trophy to show for it, has to be a significant confidence booster for a young man.

He was the face of the team, in the middle and in media interactions. This wasn't just him and his batting he had to talk about, he was responsible for an entire squad. And while doing all that, he also had his best IPL season with the bat. Ideally, Rohit should be full of confidence going into the Champions Trophy. He's succeeded as leader of some of the best men to ever play international cricket.

"His preparation is of a different level," Rohit said of Ponting. "He told me once that until he faces 100-200 balls in the nets and takes 100-200 catches, he doesn't get proper sleep in the night. Though I'm inspired, I can never be a Ponting." Hopefully, while understanding he can never be someone else, he's also developed enough belief in being Rohit Sharma, and can finally start batting like Rohit Sharma can, without the fear of failure. It took six seasons for Mumbai Indians to drop the tag of underachievers. Maybe Rohit can do the same in his sixth year in international cricket.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mukesh on June 1, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    If he has gained confidence from his IPL performance its good , but i don't think performance in IPL count for much in international cricket , having said that i believe Rohit sharma , kohli and pujara will form the core of our batting line up in the coming years. he should probably try and learn how the likes of sachin , ponting and hussey prepare before their matches because god given talent is with him already.

  • Naresh on May 30, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    Rohit Sharma should really have a chat with Sachin. Talent alone wont take him forward. Winning captain of Mumbai would have done well if he had contributed in a crucial win.

  • Ankit on May 30, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    Rohit sharma's scores reads this in his last 8 ODI outings and still he made into indian team.

    4 runs in 15 balls 83 of 93 balls 4 runs in 14 balls 4 runs in 9 balls 4 runs in 14 balls 0 runs in 1 ball 0 runs in 5 balls 5 runs in 8 balls

    BCCI can you please explain ? Is it because he represent Mumbai in IPL ? Is he an allrounder (does he contribute in bowling )? What are we trying to tell the young cricketers in india ?

  • Sai on May 29, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    Being an ardent fan of Rohit Sharma, I should say, very dissapointed by the way he played in those crucial games in the knock outs and play offs. But anyway he had fairly successfull campaign in this IPL. I really hope he can cement atleast his ODI team spot under the absence of Yuvi at NO.4 Position. I think Rohit and Kohli will make a solid middle order for Team India in all formats of the game. My team for the champions trophy would be - Dhawan, Vijay, Kohli, Rohit, Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja, Pathan, Kumar, Ishanth, Yadav/Ashwin. People please dont start anti Rohit jargon when he dosent score well in the champions trophy. We all know england pitches are more bowler friendly and all the games would be low scoring matches. Please consider the gaming conditions before you strike off a player.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2013, 6:34 GMT

    Well Said ... he deserves this .

  • Mohamed on May 28, 2013, 17:51 GMT

    With the talent and natural abilities of Rohit Sharma, there is at least two or three elements missing from the whole package that is keeping him from excelling.Self belief,confidence and most important swagger. To solve this problem, its very easy,let him spend a day with Vivian Richards. He deserves this extra attention, I'm positive it will pay great dividends for him and India.

  • Peter on May 28, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    I don't get all this hype about Rohit Sharma. From what I have seen, he is the Indian equivalent of Md. Ashraful - everyone goes ga-ga over his "stylish" batting, and he performs roughly once a year. Other stylish batsmen come to mind that even I have gone ga-ga over - VVS, Gower, Mark Waugh being prime examples - but those guys actually performed on the big stage. Rohit is nowhere near that class and has given no indication of ever getting there. The lobby to keep him in the team frankly baffles me, especially since there seem to be so many better alternatives.

  • Pravin on May 28, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    His sixth year in international cricket has just 3 ODI games left (group matches in champions trophy...unless India makes it to knockout stage)

    So there's not much to do in his sixth year.......after that his seventh year will start in international cricket. I guess he should be given 6 more years to prove his worth.....

  • Avinash on May 28, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    Amen to that thought, hopefully the IPL victory reinforces his self belief at the international level.

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2013, 15:52 GMT

    In IPL & domestic tournaments, his temperament is the best friend but in international (especially odis)....his temperament only becomes his enemy. i have often seen rohit getting out LBW on front foot. thats one flaw he needs to repair especially before CLT20 in eng. otherwise he has all the strokes and is a treat to watch. Although his T20 record is good with an average of 29.50 & S/R of 130. Also has 5 50s which is equal to yuvi with 3 innings less.