India vs New Zealand: Numbers reveal how an MS Dhoni masterstroke changed Rohit Sharma’s career
After languishing in the middle order, Rohit Sharma was sent up the order by MS Dhoni to face the new ball and it has changed the fortunes of the right-hander, who has now established himself as the best opener in the format.
Back in 2013, Rohit Sharma was questioning his every move in international cricket, he was in the middle order, had played only a handful of ‘attractive’ innings and his career was meandering along. Yes, there was talent and potential, but the return, despite the long rope given to him, was not substantial.
And then, MS Dhoni had enough. He bumped Rohit to the top of the order and asked him to face the new ball in One Day Internationals, a brush of genius they say, as Rohit has not looked back ever since. From churning out very average numbers in ODIs, he has become perhaps the best opener in this format. A match made in heaven, and the right-hander has been a dominant force in India’s amazing run in ODIs over the years.
“I believe the decision to open in ODIs changed my career and it was a decision taken by MS Dhoni. I became a better batsman after that. In fact it helped me understand my game better, react better according to situations,” Rohit confessed in 2017.
His average has seen a growth of 53.21% since his first 50 matches to his current position in ODI cricket. Such has been his dominance that in the last 49 ODIs he has scored a fifty-plus score after every 2 innings and an ODI ton after every 4 innings. As an opener, he has an average of 58.32 which is the best by an opener with a minimum of 5000 ODI runs.
Watch: MS Dhoni takes centre stage as India prepare for 4th ODI
He has a set template to his innings - watchful against the new ball, and then slowly expanding before he unleashes his strokes towards the end of the innings. His conversion rate as an opener is 42.55 % which is second only to former South African opener Herschelle Gibbs.