Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma of Mumbai Indians returns to the dugout after being dismissed in the IPL match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, on April 2, 2023. Sharma’s lack of runs affects the scoring in the powerplay for Mumbai. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

What’s happening to Rohit Sharma? He hasn’t been scoring runs in T20 cricket. The Mumbai Indians captain’s poor run in the Indian Premier League is a worry since Mumbai seem to have strayed off the winning trail. After the 2020 triumph, the team have gone into a tailspin, finishing with the wooden spoon last year.

There was no sign of revival in the first match of the season when Tilak Varma fought a lone battle in the loss to the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday. Losing the first game is not new for Mumbai. You could argue that they are always slow off the blocks. You could even point to the four losses in a row in 2015 before they won the second of their five titles. But it doesn’t help when the team are struggling.

Mumbai’s travails reflect Sharma’s wretched form. I firmly believe the team will start winning as soon as the captain finds his touch. Yes, a team can win without the captain’s contribution, but it helps when the skipper leads from the front. The positivity will rub off on the teammates, and that translates into wins even against tremendous odds.

Sharma’s run-drought cannot be compared to Virat Kohli’s. The former Indian captain went through an unusually long century drought in international cricket, both in red-ball and white-ball cricket. That extended to IPL games for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Kohli was scoring runs; it’s just that the tons weren’t coming.

Sharma’s century in Nagpur

In contrast, Sharma has been scoring in international games. He struck a well-crafted century in February in the first Test against Australia in Nagpur. Even in white-ball cricket, Sharma has been scoring runs, although he hasn’t been as imposing as in the earlier years. Remember, this is a batsman who has two double centuries against his name in One-Day Internationals.

That authority has been lacking, especially in white-ball cricket. Sharma routinely pulling fast bowlers over square-leg and his front foot square-cut were delight sights. These have become all too rare, which’s a pity. His struggles are reflected in the fact that he’s scored only one half-century in 28 innings.

Sharma’s lack of runs impacted the powerplays for India and the Mumbai Indians. So it would be prudent for him to drop down the order until he finds his scoring touch. That would help Mumbai immensely.

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Australia’s Cameron Green and Ishan Kishan will make a good pair in getting Mumbai off to swift starts in the powerplay. They can do what Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway are doing for the Chennai Super Kings. That will allow Sharma to pick a slot to steady the innings before blasting away. That’s more pertinent since Mumbai’s bulwark Suryakumaar Yadav too is going through a slump.

For that, Sharma must acknowledge that he isn’t scoring enough runs, and that’s hurting Mumbai. Once he understands that, he can take remedial action.

He’s still got a lot of cricket left in him. Sharma’s form is essential for India and Mumbai Indians. I look forward to seeing him in full flow: his languid grace and elegant strokes. It’s a cricketing feast.