Updated: Sun, 20 Feb 2022 12:51 PM IST
New Delhi | Aalok Sensharma: Rohit Sharma, the "Hitman" of Indian cricket, on Saturday was named as the Test captain of the team. Hailing the 34-year-old, chief selector Chetan Sharma said Rohit is the number one cricketer in India at present as the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) declared the squad for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka.
"As far as Rohit Sharma is concerned, he is the number one cricketer of our country, he is playing all three formats of the game. The important thing is how we manage Rohit, cricketers manage their bodies. From time to time we will be in discussion with Rohit. If such a big cricketer is leading the country, we as selection committee want to groom further captains, and grooming them under Rohit will be tremendous," Sharma said.
"It is hard to predict what problems can arise in the future, Rohit is fit and fine right now. We will give rest to every cricketer of ours, we want to give them proper rest. A body requires rest, we will see how things pan out and we will decide how will be getting the rest," he added.
Rohit's talent was never in question. Right from an early age, the Mumbaikar had shown glimpses of what he can do with the bat. However, the only issue with Rohit was his inconsistency and the lack of ability to turn his starts into big scores.
The first glimpse of Rohit Sharma
Rohit had made his one-day international (ODI) debut in 2007 against Ireland during the Future Cup tournament. However, he didn't get a chance to bat as India won the game by nine wickets.
Rohit was later selected for Pakistan's India tour where he scored his first ODI fifty. However, it was the first final of the 2007-08 Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), when the world saw the elegance of Rohit.
India was in a bit of bother when Rohit came to bat at number 5. However, he stitched an important 100-run partnership with batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, helping India win by six wickets.
Although Sachin got the man of the match for his unbeaten 117, Rohit's 66 off 87 balls - which included six fours - showed his class, temperament, and perseverance, giving a hint about what the world will see in the future.
Missing out a spot in 2011 WC squad
From 2007-10, Rohit had scored a couple of ODI hundreds but had failed to seal a permanent spot in the playing XI, giving a chance to his critics to question his temperament. In 2011, he missed a place in the World Cup squad, which Rohit had said had left him severely disappointed.
"Really really disappointed of not being the part of the WC squad.. I need to move on frm here.. but honestly it was a big setback.. any views," he had said in a Tweet in 2011.
Later, Rohit returned to the team for the West Indies tour in 2011 and scored some crucial runs for the team. However, he had a disastrous loss of form in 2012 when he scored only 168 runs at an average of 12.92.
Rise as an opener
Despite a horrendous 2012, then skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni continued to show faith in Rohit and promoted him as an opener in limited-overs. This revived Rohit's career and from there, he never looked back.
In 2013 against Australia, Rohit scored his maiden double hundred in ODIs, becoming the third Indian to achieve that rare feat. In 2014, he hit 264 against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in Kolkata - his second double hundred and the highest score in ODIs to date.
Rohit would later score another ODI double hundred against Sri Lanka in December 2017, becoming the only man in the world to score three 200s in limited-overs.
In and out in Tests
Rohit made his Test debut against the West Indies in India. During the two-match series, he scored successive hundreds but he continued to struggle overseas, leading to his exit from playing XI in the longest format of the game.
From 2014-19, Rohit had emerged as a force to reckon in ODIs and T20Is. However, his Test place seemed uncertain and many thought the Mumbaikar would become a player who would never be able to make a name in the longest format of the game.
However, Rohit had other ideas. In the 2019 ODI World Cup in England, Rohit scored five centuries and scored over 600 runs. In tough English conditions, Rohit gave India a solid start in almost every match which encouraged the then coach Ravi Shastri to try the right-hand batsman as an opener in Tests too.
"If Rohit Sharma doesn’t become a great Test batsman, then I am a failure," Shastri had famously said once.
And then came the moment in 2019 for which many cricket fans were waiting. During South Africa's India tour, we all saw Rohit opening the history and reviving his Test career. In his first game as a Test opener, Rohit smashed hundreds in both innings, becoming the fifth Indian to achieve that feat.
In that series, he also scored his first double hundred in Tests.
The challenge in Australia and England
Rohit had missed the first two games of the 2021 Border Gavaskar series in Australia due to an injury. However, he returned for the third and fourth matches. On his return, Rohit scored a fifty - his first 50 as an opener in overseas Tests - helping India get a strong start. At Gabba, he once again started strongly but failed to convert his fifty into a hundred as he threw his wicket.
"Why, why, why? That’s an unbelievable shot. That’s an irresponsible shot. There’s a fielder there at long on, there’s a fielder there at deep square leg," former India captain Sunil Gavaskar had slammed Rohit after his dismissal.
"You’ve just hit a boundary a couple of deliveries earlier. Why would you play that shot? You are a senior player, there’s no excuse, absolutely no excuse for that shot. An unnecessary wicket, an unnecessary wicket, gifted away. Totally unnecessary."
Rohit, however, said he would continue playing that way as it was his natural game.
Later that year, the real Test came for Rohit Sharma as he opened the India innings in England. Questions were raised whether Rohit is capable of opening in England or not. However, Rohit decided to shut the critics with the bat as he scored his first overseas Test century on September 4, 2021, against England with an innings of 127.
In that series (which still has one game to go), Rohit scored over 300 runs at an average of above 50, ending the debate over his talent, consistency, and temperament.
Another trait of Rohit has been captaincy. In 2013, he got a chance to lead the Mumbai Indians at the Indian Premier League (IPL) after Ricky Ponting stepped down from the feat. From there, Rohit has won five IPL titles - 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020.
As a captain, Rohit has got traits similar to that of Dhoni as he always stays calm and composed on the pitch. For India, he has won the Nidahas Trophy and the Asia Cup.
Thus after Virat Kohli decided to step down as skipper, Rohit was made the India captain in T20Is and ODIs last year. However, a big question was will he lead in Tests?
His captaincy was never an issue but his fitness is. However, the BCCI has decided to show faith in Rohit and has named him the Test skipper of India.
Whether he will be successful or not is a second question, but for Rohit, the "sun has risen."