Journey of a modern day entertainer

Veteran journalists Vijay Lokapally and G Krishnan in their book`The Hitman’ say that there is something charm in the Mumbai batsman’s flamboyant batting

By   |  Published: 24th Nov 2020  11:00 pmUpdated: 24th Nov 2020  6:00 pm

A journey that began in a distant Mumbai suburb of Borivali to India’s most successful white-ball cricketer is Rohit Sharma. He has grown in stature not only in Indian but in world cricket. He faced fair share of failures and faced criticism but Rohit grinded through to emerge as one of the dangerous batsmen of the world. Veteran journalists Vijay Lokapally and G Krishnan have chronicled `The Hitman’ with a book that takes you from his ODI debut in 2007 to modern day entertainer.

As legend Sachin Tendulkar rightly said: “Rohit has one of the most wonderful bat swings I have seen and the power he generates in his shots is primarily because of that.’’

As the two authors describe, there is a certain charm in Rohit batting. ”To begin with, he defies the Bombay school of thought. He does not believe in compiling runs—he plunders them.’’

But then Rohit has the style, skill and attitude. He bats like the West Indies great Viv Richards who intimidates the bowlers while he has the impeccable technique like legend Sunil Gavaskar, whose strength was to perform on all kinds of challenging surfaces.

It is often said of a batsman’s eye and hand coordination. For Rohit, he picks the line early and strikes the ball hard and long. According to the book, his bat lift and the follow-through rekindles memories that graced Greg Chappell style. Yuvraj Singh, who in the foreword of this book, was convinced that Rohit would become a big-match player after watching him hit 30 not out at No.6 against South Africa in 2007 where India triumphed under MS Dhoni captaincy. “He went to bat in the 16th over and tore the bowling apart in his 16-ball knock,’’ said Yuvraj.

But then, according to Yuvraj, Rohit was not a born opener like Tendulkar or Virender Sehwag. “His inspirations were Tendulkar and Sehwag…. He has proved us right by emerging as the best one-day batsman. His authority at the crease is supreme.’’ Yuvraj further says: He and Rohit share a few qualities. ”We both never had any support when we needed it.’’

The converted opener became a devastating opener. The Hitman is the only batsman to have struck two double hundreds in one-day cricket and in 2019 World Cup in England, he struck five hundreds to be the Don of white-ball cricket. As Harbhajan Singh said, Rohit is a bowlers’ nightmare.

Rohit has always been hailed as a shrewd cricket brain. This according to the authors, the responsibility as Mumbai Indians captain, has made him a better player and a better leader. His rise as MI captain was also related to the atmosphere surrounding him on and off the field. “If it was Gary Kirsten at the start of his international career, it was Duncan Fletcher and then Ravi Shastri who fine-tuned his batting skills and cricketing acumen.’’ Rohit has led his franchise to unprecedented five IPL titles, prompting Gautam Gambhir to comment: “If Rohit Sharma does not become the Indian captain, it is India’s misfortune and not his.”

When compared to his red-ball performance, it has not been the same as shorter format even though he made his debut against West Indies at Eden Gardens way back in 2013. He scored back-to-back centuries batting in the middle order in his first two Tests in the farewell series of Tendulkar. He can play long innings but has yet to cement his place in Test cricket although he showed that promised in a big way in the home series against South Africa.

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