The languid grace with which Rohit Sharma bats is surely a sight for sore eyes. He seems so relaxed and unflustered at the crease that nothing provokes him into playing an uncultured stroke or pushes him out of his comfort zone.
To be precise, there is not a single ugly stroke in his wide repertoire of cricketing shots. The crispness with which he exquisitely executes strokes that race to the fence is a joy to behold. His calm, unruffled exterior on top of his classy strokeplay gives the impression that he is in complete control over himself and his essay at the crease.
All these qualities were brought out in emphatic fashion during his striking innings against Bangladesh on Thursday. Rohit not only scored a vital unbeaten century; he also controlled the pace and character of the run chase in a masterly fashion.
His role in the run chase was to hold one end up and at the same time accumulate runs en route to the target of 265. And how well he did both!
In short Rohit’s command over the Bangladesh bowlers was nothing if not total. Neither pacer nor spinner could make a dent on his uber-confident approach to the task of taking India past the post.
Rohit drove handsomely well, with some of the drives leaving the field standing. Those flicks to the leg kept the fielders busy while the hook and pull doused the Bangladeshi fast bowlers’ fire.
It was only because Rohit exuded so much poise and confidence that his partners, Shikhar Dhawan and later Virat Kohli, could go after bowlers Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain with gusto.
Actually the Rohit Sharma we are witnessing at the Champions Trophy could well be version 2.0. He is batting with such rare panache that his confidence and determination is finding its way into him being consistent. His four innings in the tournament have yielded scores of 91, 78, 12 and 123 n.o. with the first and last, against Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively, being match-winning efforts.
There is little doubt that the Rohit blossoming at the Champions Trophy is someone keen on making up for lost time. The tournament marks his return to competitive international cricket after a hip surgery and rehabilitation routine kept him out of the game for the best part of last season. He spent most of that time recuperating at the NCA in Bengaluru and during that period saw a number of younger players, including KL Rahul and Karun Nair excelling for India.
Their success, along with those of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane would probably have got Rohit thinking about his spot in the national team. After all, although he had made his debut for India in an ODI in June 2007, the Mumbai batsman was fielded in a mere 21 Tests.
In comparison, Rahane made his India debut only four years later, also in an ODI, but has already been chosen for 37 Tests while KL Rahul, despite being sidelined by injuries, has played 17 Tests in his three years in international cricket.
The 30-year-old Rohit, who has scored double centuries in ODIs, and has been widely acknowledged as a rare batting talent would have realised during his 5-month lay-off that he needed to help himself by paying greater attention to tightening his approach to the game.
He had an indifferent IPL as he had just returned to playing cricket after the injury and was still feeling his way around in a format that called for instant hitting from the start.
Rohit did not open the batting in the IPL, but come the longer format in Champion’s Trophy, skipper Kohli entrusted him with the task of seeing off the new balls. This would have suited Rohit who really likes to play himself in before venturing into playing his shots.
The 50-over format was also the ideal platform for him to give vent to his special talent. And how emphatically he has done it much to the relief of his skipper and fans! He is already the second highest run-getter in this year’s edition, with his 304 runs being improved upon only by partner Dhawan’s 317.
However, Rohit, like Dhawan, is not finished as yet. He has one more innings to play in this Champions Trophy and what better way to finish an exciting comeback than a fitting finale against old foes Pakistan! Go Rohit Go!