Rohit Sharma's IPL century the perfect fairytale, but can India afford it at T20 World Cup? | Crickit

Rohit Sharma's IPL century the perfect fairytale, but can India afford it at T20 World Cup?

Apr 15, 2024 04:35 PM IST

Rohit Sharma scored only his 2nd IPL century but do India really need the same approach from their captain when the T20 World Cup comes around.

There wasn’t a smidgeon of joy, not even a hint of a smile. A dozen years after his first three-figure knock, Rohit Sharma had doubled his tally of IPL centuries, but while the packed gathering at the Wankhede Stadium went bananas, the protagonist didn’t even raise his bat in acknowledgement of the applause. As significant as his individual accomplishment was, Rohit’s second IPL ton was doomed to come in a losing cause, Mumbai Indians’ chase of Chennai Super Kings’ 206 for four ending 20 short.

Rohit Sharma scored his 1st IPL century after 12 years(PTI)
Rohit Sharma scored his 1st IPL century after 12 years(PTI)

If and when the Indian captain overcomes the disappointment of the crushing loss, he will reflect on his own effort with a hint of satisfaction, if not contentment. After four consecutive middling seasons – post 2019, his highest tally was 381 in 2021, his best strike-rate was 132.80 last year when he made 332 runs at 20.75 – Rohit has rediscovered his IPL mojo. Whether that has anything to do with how he was stripped of the captaincy despite his exceptional track record is open to question. But batting with the freedom that has become his calling card in white-ball internationals, Rohit has already amassed 261 runs in six innings this season, an average of 52.20 and a strike-rate of 167.31 suggesting a happy fusion of consistency and unfettered aggression.

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With the T20 World Cup less than a month and a half away, these are encouraging signs from an Indian perspective. Things aren’t as rosy for his franchise; their campaign having gone pear-shaped after a fourth defeat in six outings.

The temptation to hold Rohit responsible for Mumbai’s inability to breast the tape might be overwhelming in certain quarters; if anything, the 36-year-old too might feel that he must be apportioned some blame, though he will also concede that Matheesha Pathirana, the latest Sri Lankan slinging sensation, did a Bumrah on Mumbai’s batters.

Much like the celebrated Indian paceman, Pathirana dealt crippling blows at crucial times, first dismissing Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in the space of three deliveries after the former had helped Rohit add 70 for the opening wicket, then returned to evict Tilak Varma, who had put on 60 for the third wicket with his former captain. When the left-handed Varma was dismissed, MI were still in control, 130 for three in 13.5, needing 77 in 37 deliveries which, with seven wickets in hand on a small ground, a flat deck and a dew-infested outfield, ought to have been little more than a walk in the park.

Rohit was 76 off 46 when Varma fell; his partner’s exit took some of the fluency out of the right-hander’s batting, though it must be kept in mind that from overs 13 through 16, Rohit faced only eight of 24 balls. Hardik Pandya, who had conceded 20 in four deliveries in the last over of CSK’s innings to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, pottered around for six balls in making two, and even though Tim David smashed two mighty sixes, one could sense that Rohit was frustrated at being denied the strike. It didn’t help matters either that at a critical stage of the chase, MI went 15 deliveries without a boundary; Rohit fronted up to five of them, bowled expertly by CSK’s Mumbai Ranji Trophy of Shardul Thakur and Tushar Deshpande.

By the time Rohit discovered his boundary-hitting mojo, off the last ball of the 19th over from Mustafizur Rahman, it was too late. Between them, Pandya, Romario Shepherd and Mohammad Nabi faced 15 off the last 37 deliveries in contributing a grand total of seven runs. To say that the match was won and lost in that passage will be no exaggeration, with due respect to Pathirana’s magnificent spell of four for 28 in another shot in the arm for the Impact Player rule.

Where does Rohit's 105 against CSK rank?

Where does all this place Rohit’s eighth T20 hundred? In the immediacy of the defeat, not very high, one might argue, but given the larger picture, his unbeaten 105 off 63, 11 fours and five sixes, assumes no little import. Despite the mid-innings hiccups, he ended up with a strike-rate of 166.66, more than acceptable any which way one looks at it. He was at once the attacker and the anchor – that dreaded word in 20-over cricket – and his approach and attitude can’t be faulted, notwithstanding the outcome.

A combination of intelligent execution from CSK’s faster bowlers and their own desperation to muscle the ball meant a bunch of feared, fearsome ball-bashers effectively shackled themselves, an unexpected and potentially one-off development. That’s not on Rohit, not by a long way. MI needed this hundred, India needed this hundred, Rohit needed this hundred. And not necessarily in that order.

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