If you play the Fantasy League, chances are that you would at least have Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the team, if not as captain and vice-captain. The odds of these two clicking are so freakishly high that even if you want to gamble with your fantasy team, you would rather not sit out either of these players.
Such has been the impact of India’s two top order giants that at least one of them, if not both, stamps his mark on India's victories every single time. The skipper and his deputy are the only players to have over 1,000 runs in ODIs this year, with Kohli’s runs tally standing at an astounding 1,387 in 26 matches at an average of 77.06 including six hundreds. Rohit isn't far behind — with five hundreds — although he has played in eight fewer matches than his skipper. The opener averages 67.25 in the format this year and has more runs than the likes of Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Joe Root.
They have been involved in 12 century partnerships — only Sourav Ganguly-Sachin Tendulkar (26) and Virender Sehwag-Sachin Tendulkar (13) have more — and have scored 3,413 runs in 61 matches at an average of 59.87. On Sunday, Rohit and Kohli compiled their fourth double century partnership in ODI cricket, the most by any pair in the format. When these two are in the mood, there is little that can stop them, and New Zealand found that out in the series decider at Kanpur.
Contrary to his usual mantra of settling in and then going bonkers, Rohit chose to break his hoodoo against left-arm seam by going on the rampage right from the onset. The plan worked as Trent Boult and Tim Southee had no answers to Rohit’s spectacular cut and pull shots.
Bizarrely, they chose to bowl short at him, although the Mumbaikar is a fabulous hooker of the cricket ball and the plan came apart completely. That Rohit was in the zone was identified the moment he slammed Adam Milne’s short ball over the mid-wicket fence off his front foot to make Kohli at the other end go 'wow’.
— Meeqat Hashmi (@MeeqatHashmi) October 29, 2017
When Mitchell Santner was brought into the attack to stop the Rohit-Kohli run fest, the former took him on with aplomb, unsettling his lengths with a cracking sweep and a rocking-back cut shot. The 50 run stand came with just 19 coming off Kohli's bat.
By the time Rohit dug into Colin de Grandhomme's looseners and raced into the seventies, Kohli had found his feet and timing. A nonchalant, yet elegant flick off Boult confirmed that notion and from there, it was absolute carnage from two wonderfully gifted cricketers.
In the last five overs of the second Powerplay, Kohli and Rohit hit 56 runs, with six fours and a six coming in the area between cover and long-off, a sign of the ominous touch the duo were in.
As Kohli eased into his half-century, Rohit was into his nervous nineties but by now the skipper was in no mood to give strike. He creamed Southee through the covers before middling a straight drive — a shot that would have made Sachin Tendulkar stand up and clap — to take the stand to 150.
Rohit glanced a Southee delivery to mid-wicket to celebrate his 15th ODI hundred and then went about rubbishing claims of his so-called weakness against Boult. He blazed the Kiwi seamer for four boundaries in an over and as though to match that, Kohli hit the lacklustre de Grandhomme for a couple of fours in the next.
Before Kohli could get to his 32nd ODI hundred, Rohit holed out to Southee in the deep, on 147, off Santner. The 230-run partnership had given India a chance to make a 350+ total on a flat Kanpur deck in its debut day-night match. Kohli went on to make his hundred but India couldn't quite manage as many runs as they would have liked in the final ten overs although they did go on to win a close encounter.
Kohli, on the other hand, was conscious of Rohit being in the zone and rarely hesitated to give strike and watch the 'Hitman’ show from the other end. When the opportunity presented itself, the skipper managed to dig in and became the fastest to 9,000 runs during this outstanding innings.
While they break records after records on an individual level, as a pair, they have been unstoppable, instilling fear in the minds of opposition with risk-free, conventional stroke play, quick running between the wickets, sudden acceleration and astonishing rate of hitting boundaries. Their enviable association transcended the boundaries of the surreal on a Sunday afternoon at Kanpur.