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Runs and words, with love, from Rohit to Virat.

by Naked Cricket


For years, Virat Kohli has had no equal in the Indian Test team. It was beyond stats, runs, captaincy – it was about persona. And as it grew with Kohli’s beard, his mate’s beards grew too. Kohli’s eyebrows meanwhile kept a watchful eye, like an emperor on his subjects.

Teams were changed, players were swapped, anyone could play, almost anyone could perish. Rarely did the same team play two Tests in a row. Rarely did a different Kohli turn up. In that uncertainty, Kohli found his centre.

It paid dividends. It also slid into the growth model. And it could be direct too. Without knowing, here was Kohli pedaling all three mutual fund plans.

Sahi hai or not, who was to question? Kohli was the big bull, raging on, series win after series win.

Yet the fact that no player came close to Kohli in stature was to the team’s detriment.

Until Rohit Sharma, heaped all those centuries in the World Cup, demanding a wager be taken – to make Rohit open in Test cricket too.

Stranger things have happened. Three seasons on Netflix have documented that. This however, was up there with it.

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Before Rohit Sharma walked out in whites on the Mahatma’s birthday, he was still fighting for his cricketing independence – he was a Twenty20, one-day man, but Test cricket had chained him.

From 6th November 2013 to October, 2, 2019, he had only played 27 Tests. To get a sense of how long back that debut was, take into account, it was also Tendulkar’s swansong.

Tendulkar stopped playing, and Rohit couldn’t start playing.

The cricket world was divided into Rohit for Tests and please don’t test Rohit anymore. It’s testing.

But with Shastri as head coach, Kohli as captain, a silly distraction of an Instagram unfollow, Rohit was to open the batting against the red ball. In India however.

With Murali Vijay, 35, a distant memory, Prithvi Shaw suspended midair in his teens, Hanuma Vihari ordered to make an exception in Melbourne; Rohit’s time had come.

He had scored faster than any of the top order in the first innings of that Melbourne victory. Not something Shastri the salesman will allow anyone to forget easily.

Rohit came in with the backing and belief few Indian cricketers have seen. The world was ready for Rohit’s miracles. Was Rohit ready for them?

Before the South Africa Test series, middle order/muddle order Rohit Sharma had a Test average of 39.62, 3 centuries, 10 fifties.

Three home Tests and 529 runs later, his Test average has shot up to 48.04. Oh. Yeah. That’s how much.

In three Tests, he’s doubled his century count, make that six. He had a double to boot. And his boot was firmly on the Proteas.

Man of the match, man of the moment, man of the series, man on the moon, Rohit Sharma Test cricketer had arrived.

***


The lightness followed. Rohit is funny guy to Virat’s angry young man. He didn’t miss an opportunity to add some levity in a press conference, confirming that the reporters will now have to write something nice about him.

It was just Rohit being Rohit – great timing, not a shot played in anger, but yet much like his fierce pulls, it went the distance. It impacted those around.

They tittered, how could they not. Rohit had disarmed them. Much as he had disarmed a truckload of critics through the series.

Arms may be taken up again, another series, away perhaps, in New Zealand, or wherever India goes next, but for now, Rohit had scored more runs in a single innings than South Africa could in both – Rohit Sharma 212 > SA 162, 133 @Ranchi

Perhaps, all Rohit Sharma needed to come off in Test cricket was his name and number at the back of his shirt.

Test cricket obliged, as did Rohit.

***

Standing at second slip, alongside Virat at first, Rohit negates the excitement around a possible review. Between Kohli and Jadeja, left to themselves they would happily use all India’s and South Africa’s reviews too. Rohit is the tangent at hand that balances power – the counter opinion, the equal voice. On the field, as it happens.

One that so far has been missing in the Indian Test team. And even though Pujara had the might of runs, the man of the series in Australia, much like Rahane, he is not an all format India player.

Rohit Sharma is now T20, ODI and Test opener. He has centuries in all three formats. He is an ODI double centurion and IPL winner many times over.

In the Indian team sponsors, Byju’s advertisement with some of the men in blue, guess who Virat Kohli is talking to in the last frame?

Rohit Sharma, who else?

***

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