Rohit Sharma turned 35 on Saturday, April 30. The cricket fraternity is celebrating the birthday of one of the finest batters of this era. As the superstar cricketer turns a year older and wiser, the Indian fans are hoping he achieves plenty of success on and off the field in what is an exciting and packed international cricket season.
Rohit Sharma has had an eventful last 6 months in his career. The most successful Indian Premier League captain took over as India’s white-ball captain after Virat Kohli quit as T20I skipper following the senior national team’s early exit from the T20 World Cup last year. Rohit was the obvious choice for the white-ball captaincy after Kohli was sacked as ODI skipper as well.
In January this year, Rohit was handed over the Test captaincy as well after Kohli made an unforeseen decision to give up a job that he loved doing after India lost a 3-Test series in South Africa. It was astonishing to see Rohit’s ascendancy, especially in the red-ball format. The star batter was struggling to find a place in the XI until 2019 when he was promoted to open the batting. A golden run with the bat made him one of the most indispensable members of the Test team. Not many eyebrows were raised when Rohit was made the Test captaincy as the star batter reaped the reward for his dedication and hunger to do well in whites.
THE BURDEN OF EXPECTATIONS
All eyes will be on Rohit Sharma who will have to shoulder the burden of being an all-format captain of the most-followed cricket team in the world. Ask Virat Kohli, as MS Dhoni, the job is not as rosy as it looks. Dhoni gave up Test captaincy well before he retired. Kohli found plenty of success as an all-format captain and led India to unprecedented highs in whites, but his inability to lead India to a white-ball trophy in ICC events has been a much-discussed aspect of his captaincy.
ALSO SEE: ROHIT’S ICONIC MOMENTS
Rohit has a proven record as captain. As India’s stand-in captain, Rohit had won the Asia Cup, the Nidahas Trophy and his record of him as Mumbai Indians captain-5 titles in 9 years is staggering, but the pressure of leading the senior national team is going to be entirely different .
Rohit Sharma led India to a 2-0 sweep of Sri Lanka in his first series as Test captain (AFP Photo)
ROHIT BEGINS WELL
Rohit Sharma has begun on a high. India hammered New Zealand in his first assignment as full-time captain. They breezed past a visiting West Indies side in ODIs and T20Is before hammering Sri Lanka in T20Is and 2 Tests.
However, stiffer challenges await the Mumbai man who is known for keeping his composure and getting the job done with a wonderful mix of his gut feel and data-driven decisions. With head coach Rahul Dravid in the dressing room, Rohit could not ask for a calmer and clearer environment at the top.
Rohit, it seems, has set out a clear roadmap for the biggest tournament of 2022 – the T20 World Cup, which will be played in Australia in October-November. Be it calling for a much-needed change to India’s T20 approach or backing the likes of Sanju Samson, Yuzvedra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, highlighting the need for specialists for Australian conditions, Rohit has shown the world that he is looking ahead.
A couple of areas of concern for the influential skipper are the transition phase and his own form and fitness. One can only hope that Mumbai Indians’ horror run in IPL 2022 (8 defeats in as many matches – the worst-ever start by a team in the league’s history) is an aberration and Rohit’s confidence won’t take a beating going forward. Rohit has worked hard on his fitness and has looked sharper on the field ever since returning to the set-up after missing the all-important South Africa tour earlier this year.
How Rohit deals with Virat Kohli, who is going through a slump in form will be crucial to India’s progress in the next few crucial months. As a Test captain, Rohit needs to address the futures of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara who are battling to return to the side after they were snubbed for the Sri Lanka series at home.
Battled-hardened after having been through plenty of highs and lows in a decorated career, Rohit Sharma has all the tools to make an ever-lasting impact as the skipper at the highest level. India is banking on Rohit to help end a frustrating 8-year wait for an ICC title. Can Hitman hit the bull’s eye Down Under?