INDIA – Rohit Sharma became an ODI sensation by altering his style of batting. In the first 25 overs, he would bat conservatively, set himself up to bat for the full 50 overs, and then come off in the last overs. With this approach, he achieved three ODI double centuries.
Three double-hundreds. Others haven’t even produced two.
Indian openers other than Rohit got the last two ODI double hundred in the span of two months. Instead, it fell to him to conduct an interview with Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill, the other two double-centurions, for bcci.tv after the latter had achieved his against New Zealand in Hyderabad.
But Rohit has undoubtedly contributed to his opening partner’s recent successes. He tore up his outmoded template and began by pushing himself much harder and faster. He regularly moves across the field, pumps the ball over the top, and has even demonstrated the ability to play reverse sweeps, as he did during India’s narrow triumph over Mitchell Santner in the second ODI in Raipur.
The change in Rohit’s strategy has given his teammates the freedom to settle down and focus on their respective activities. Also vulnerable to termination under the new strategy is Rohit. As an illustration, consider the incident in Hyderabad when Rohit rushed out of the crease to bowl to Blair Tickner. However, the ball got trapped in the surface, leading the batsman to swerve his shot to mid-on. His vulnerability has increased because of it. Rohit has now played in 16 ODIs without scoring a hundred; his most recent score of three figures came against Australia in Bengaluru in January 2020 (119).
At one point, Rohit’s coach and tragic Mumbai cricketer, Dinesh Lad, expressed his surprise at Rohit’s high-risk white-ball strategy.
Okay, so why is Rohit playing in ODI cricket like this? since the ODI environment has changed. Because on flat fields, it is not feasible to relax and attempt to keep wickets in the powerplay. Since the ODI World Cup will be hosted in India later this year, you must amass dew-proof totals while batting first.
Rohit’s fierce perseverance was on display during a recent encounter in Guwahati against Sri Lanka, as he scored 83 runs in 67 balls to help India reach 373 for 7. With his unbroken 108 off 88 balls later in the evening, Dasun Shanaka gave India a scare as the ball slid onto the bat well thanks to the dew. India’s offensive ultimately succeeded in defending the overall, in part because of that potent top-level goal.
In the lead-up to the 2022 T20 World Cup, Rohit has been in charge of India’s revised short-format strategy. Even if India’s execution of the approach during that tournament failed in difficult Australian conditions because of his poor form, it wasn’t always for lack of effort.
Since the 2019 ODI World Cup ended, Rohit has a powerplay strike rate of 92.55. With at least 15 innings of baseball played throughout the course of that period, Rohit is now ranked sixth among starters. Jonny Bairstow (106.35) is clearly in the lead, but Quinton de Kock (95.93), Jason Roy (95.89), Gill (94.88), and Finn Allen (93.19) aren’t far behind.
The latest statistics are in stark contrast to those from the beginning of 2013, when Rohit started to start every ODI, to the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup. His power play strike rate at the time was at 70.47.
On the eve of the third ODI against New Zealand in Indore, Rahul Dravid, India’s current head coach, who has followed Rohit’s career since his Under-19 days, talked highly of Rohit’s development as an ODI hitter.
A double century from a non-Rohit player in an ODI has already been seen in Indore. Tuesday might see another doubleton, or at the very least a large hundred, thanks to the small boundaries, quick outfield, and bash-through-the-lines pitch here. Rohit might or might not succeed, but whoever reaches that milestone may be impacted by his gung-ho attitude at the top.