Hard yards paying off for Rohit as he and India seek redemption

Rohit Sharma versus Australia (Image: BCCI)

If you ask any of the top batsmen who have dominated the game for their favourite innings, the answers more often than not tend to startle you. For example, Sachin Tendulkar routinely picks the 241 not out he scored in Sydney in 2004, a knock which lasted for 10 hours and had little or no flamboyance about it. For fans, Rohit Sharma may have played many knocks that were easier on the eye, but for him as captain, his innings against Australia in St Lucia will rank at the very top of the pile. This is because Rohit was carrying a lot of baggage going into the game. He wasn’t in great form, he hasn’t forgotten November 19, 2023 and his weakness against left-arm pace has been much talked about in recent times.

Up against one of the world’s premier fast bowlers in Mitchell Starc, who had his tail up having bowled a good first over and with his partner having already picked up Virat Kohli with a delivery that got big on him, Rohit had his task cut out. As he so often says, “It is the job of the top three to score the bulk of the runs, and we must relish that challenge.” Had Rohit got out, Australia may have sensed an opportunity with Kohli already dismissed by a fine catch. In other words, Rohit was key to a good score and to an Indian victory.

Rohit, who has not won a World Cup as skipper, knows this is perhaps his last chance. As he had said, “I now know my game the best I ever did. I have played World Cups before and know what to expect. In that sense, I am the best prepared for the tournament and that’s what I as a player needed to do.” From the evidence on hand, he is absolutely right in saying so. The Rohit of a few years earlier may have played an extravagant shot to try and deflect pressure and got out in the process. Not anymore. Against Australia, he was willing to push himself and stay out there. Keep playing fearless cricket and attack every Australian bowler he faced. Knowing full well that 200 was needed to challenge Australia, Rohit planned his innings to perfection, making it a gem for his team and for everyone watching.


I remember speaking to Rohit when he had missed out on 2011 World Cup selection. Understandably, he was crestfallen. But like the story of his career, he refused to give up. He was prepared to go back to domestic cricket and do the hard yards. He was prepared to struggle far away from the camera glare and get himself battle-ready for World Cup 2015. It was because of another fabulous Rohit century that India managed to make the semi-finals in Australia nine years ago, and despite a blazing start in the semi-final, Rohit and the rest of the team failed against a superior Australian side.

In the Caribbean, he has worked the hardest. The day before, he was there at the optional practice session and batted for more than an hour. Pushed every sinew in his body to make himself the best prepared. He left nothing to chance, and the result was there for all to see.

This is one trait that binds greatness. The zeal and willingness to embrace the occasion, and the deep-seated desire to be a hero. Rohit, in this World Cup, is no different. As one of the best of this era, he knows he can win games for India, and in doing so, can raise his bat to the appreciation of the crowd and to the millions of fans back home who idolise him. He has struggled to get to where he has. He has looked ugly at times. But true to his motto, he has never given up, and as Indian fans, we are thankful. Two more games, Rohit. Just two more games. And it’s another chance at redemption come Thursday as India take on England in a repeat of the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final. More than anyone else, the occasion will not be lost on Rohit. And that gives us hope, with the skipper leading from the front.