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Indian skipper Rohit Sharma celebrates after reaching his century, seventh in the World Cup, against Afghanistan on Wednesday. Image Credit: Reuters

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Dubai: Rohit Sharma has been the talk of the cricketing world and beyond. The skipper shattered many records during his century against Afghanistan in New Delhi on Wednesday, extending India’s winning run.

Rohit records en route to 131 off 84 balls against Afghanistan included fastest century by an Indian after outwitting Kapil Dev, seventh World Cup century, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar, and the maximum sixes in international cricket, pushing West Indian Chris Gayle to the second spot. It is just the beginning of the 45-day long tournament and expect more fireworks from the 36-year-old opener.

So what makes Rohit, the feared Hitman, so special?

Making batting look simple

Robin Singh

“Rohit Sharma has an amazing ability to pick up the length quickly and convert good balls into amazing shots. Over the years, he has matured as a player and coupled with his abundant talent, his consistency has improved tremendously. He makes batting so simple,” former Indian all-rounder Robin Singh told Gulf News.

Singh, who was part of the Mumbai Indians coaching staff, was closely associated with Rohit for many years and has seen his development as a player and as a captain. The Indian skipper is good on the backfoot, punishing the short-pitched deliveries with his trademark pull and cut. As a change, he played most of his strokes on the front foot against Afghanistan, giving a different perspective to his game.

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Rohit Sharma plays a lofted drive off his front foot against Afghanistan. Image Credit: AFP

According to Singh, it is the hard yards that Rohit puts in practice, simulating the match situations during practice in similar conditions, which helps in backing himself during the matches.

“Actually, he is a stroke-maker who does not pull back his shots. During my involvement over the years with him, he practices what he wants to execute in the middle. All these things add up for your confidence and you take that form into a game, where you need to back yourself. I think Rohit has reached that stage. I think that’s the key to his batting,” Singh added.

Singh was an integral part of the Indian team during the 1999 World Cup in England, where the Men in Blue lost in the Super Six stage, despite a win over finalists Pakistan.

First-hand experience

Singh has a first-hand experience of being under pressure in a World Cup match, that too involving the Asian giants.

“India and Pakistan match is next to the rivalry between Australia and England and in a World Cup it gets bigger. This India-Pakistan match on Saturday will be one of the most-watched game across the globe. But what is important from a player’s perspective is to stay away from social media and focus on the job,” added Robin Singh, who is now associated with Wildr, a social media platform where all messages are verified.

Talking about the ills of social media before and after such high-profile matches, the former India all-rounder says the fans must respect the private space of the players, who will not be able to give out their best if they feel threatened and trolled.

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Indian pacer Mohammed Shami arriving in Ahmedabad for the World Cup match against Pakistan. Image Credit: AFP

“Social media has become a big part of the sport. When you play these World Cup matches, it is critical to stay calm and the fans and all the support staff are with you even when you don’t have a good performance. It’s a united effort,” he said.

Talking about this World Cup, India need to feed off on impressive performances from Rohit, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul and the key for any team to be successful in a tournament of this magnitude is the self-belief, feels Singh. “World Cup cricket is a special event, something similar to football World Cup or the Olympics. Twenty20 World Cup or 50-over World Cup, there is no difference at all and it is the biggest stage and you are tested on the biggest stage. Every game is critical to move to the next stage. So you need to be in that zone — on how you come out of a failure or continue with a good performance. It is critical to stay away from external factors,” he said and elaborated on the players’ mindset during such a tournament.

Prepare for all possible scenarios

“As international cricketers, you are expected to perform at that level, you prepare for all the scenarios, against all opponents and at all conditions. Then you should be ready to execute that plan. You have to make good and conscious decisions and have a positive outlook. Self-belief is really important, because it’s a long tournament. Rohit, Kohli and Rahul has had fantastic performances, you need to feed off on that performance, it gives a sense of positive feeling. You need to feed off on your teammates and sometimes the opposition, only then it is possible to succeed.”

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Pakistan players strategise their practice session ahead of the match against India at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Image Credit: Reuters

And his final word on India-Pakistan game?

“You want to see a well-fought game, not an one-sided game. At the end, whatever is the result, people have to accept it and move on,” he concluded.