Dubai: Indian skipper Rohit Sharma’s deafening silence after the loss in the final of the 50-over World Cup in Ahmedabad a month ago had left a sense of uneasiness among the cricket fans.
Adding to the intrigue about the opener’s future was his absence along with star batter Virat Kohli for the series against Australia and South Africa that had further complicated things, though the Indian board assured fans that they are taking the much-needed break. While that is the official version, the two series has provided a chance to try out new players for the future once these greats call it a day.
When the second-string won the five-match Twenty20 series against defending world champions Australia, there were murmurs among fans to keep this team for the next Twenty20 World Cup.
Breaking his silence
But on Wednesday, Rohit broke his silence and spoke deeply about the disappointment of losing the World Cup final and how the love of fans acted as soothing balm to his broken heart.
Deeply hurt he would be given that in 2011 Rohit narrowly missed being part of the victorious World Cup-winning Indian team and since then has been putting his heart and soul to win the elite trophy that he is desperately longing for.
“I’ve always grown up watching the 50-over World Cup. To me that was the ultimate prize, the 50-over World Cup. We’ve worked all these years, for that World Cup. And it is disappointing, right? If you don’t get through it, don’t get what you want, what you’ve been looking for all this while, what you were dreaming of. You get disappointed. You get frustrated as well at times,” Rohit had mentioned the chat show clearly exhibiting the pain he has gone through.
Important message to fans
However, the positive take away from the chat show was the love he received from the fans, instead of anger and frustration, which has given him the motivation to get back and start working again in the hunt for another ultimate prize. An important message for Team India.
Known for his calmness as a leader, Rohit has been a skipper who was able to connect with every single player. The opener has been par excellence on the field, giving Team India the brisk starts that set the foundation for hosts that saw them achieve 10 consecutive victories. The experience of Rohit, coupled with the able backing of Kohli, has been a double whammy for the rivals during the 50-over World Cup.
Next 50-over World Cup is four years away. While Rohit gives an impression that he is not supremely fit, the team’s strength and conditioning coach Ankit Kaliyar, in an recent interview in Indian media, said that Rohit is bulky, but the skipper is as fit as Kohli and always passes the Yo-Yo fitness test. But given that the Indian skipper will be 40 by the next World Cup it’s too early to speculate.
Breaking the shackles
For now, Rohit’s immediate focus will be on Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA in June next year.
Twenty20 cricket is not just slam-bang anymore. The bowlers have become smarter and have tried to stay one step ahead of the batters in mind games. They come up with numerous variations to stop their rivals from finding their groove, which really puts the batting team under pressure.
In modern day cricket, a good start is imperative to set the foundation for a big score or even chasing a stiff target. So in this context, Rohit’s all-round game, with the ability to rotate the strike when things are not going his way and by taking calculated risks, he is able the break the shackles of the bowling team. His six-hitting capabilities have helped him erase Chris Gayle record of 553 sixes, leaving the Indian opener at 579 in international cricket. He also became the first player to cross 50 sixes in World Cup.
Rohit has been at the helm of affairs for the last couple of years and the team is wearing a perfect look, barring one or two odd changes.
It is unfortunate that Suryakumar Yadav, who is the best Twenty20 player in the world, was not able to reproduce his form in the 50-over format. Still, Rohit backed him to come good. It is important for the skippers to back his players, who in turn deliver the goods. Similarly, his bold moves in enforcing bowling changes has earned him success in the past.
Rohit should return for the Test series against South Africa for the Boxing Day Test in Cape Town to ensure that the Men in Blue begins their World Test Championship cycle and clinch the trophy, which they narroly lost to Austrlia earlier this year.
The vibrant skipper has five titles in the Indian Premier League, and his role is key if Team India were to add another Twenty20 World Cup title to their cabinet.