Why no one deserves this World Cup more than Rohit Sharma
How many hundreds did Rohit Sharma miss in this ICC World Cup 2023? At least five if not more.
But how many hearts did he win with his new found no-holds barred attacking approach? May be a billion. With a perfect balance between head and heart, Rohit has taken India into the ICC World Cup 2023 tournament final.
The high-risk approach has cost him personal milestones but having put team above self, the `Hit-Man` didn`t deviate from his game-plan as he is on a mission to complete what he termed at the start as unfinished business`.
He will be 36 years and 203 days old on November 19, a day which would possibly be his `last dance` and effectively a last chance to win the coveted 50 over World Cup title.
The next 50-over World Cup is too far away and someone that oozes practicality from literally every bone of his body, it would be a long shot to think that at 40 he would be game to play 100-over per day matches in 2027.
Hence November 19, 2023, could be the `Red Letter Day` in 16 and half years of Rohit`s chequered career punctuated with lot of ups and downs.
“In the next two months, I want to create a lot of memories with this team,” Rohit had told PTI just before the Asia Cup.
And boy did he make some fabulous memories in last six weeks giving India its own customized version of `La Decima (10 in Spanish and Italian) in this year`s global cricket meet.
Nasser Hussain pointed out during his chat in Sky Sports what the Indian skipper had told Dinesh Karthik after the last World T20 semi-final thrashing at the hands of eventual champions England.
“We need to change our approach,” Rohit had told Karthik, who was part of that squad.
A change of approach is always a result of change of mindset and when the captain walks the talk, it becomes very easy for others to follow.
When Rohit first became a full-time skipper, in one of his earlier press meets, he had said a very pertinent thing.
“I won`t tell anyone to do anything that I myself won`t do,” Rohit has said back then.
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But Rohit has always been like that, his childhood coach Dinesh Lad said.
“I remember an incident from his U-19 days. It wasn`t from a game. We were all standing somewhere and there was this gleaming Mercedes parked on the other side of the road. Rohit looked at it for some time and said: `Yeh main ek din kharidoonga (I will buy this car one day`).
“I had to retort. I said, `Rohit kya paagal ho gaya hain tu. Abhi kuch khela hi naahi hain tune (Are you mad Rohit. You haven`t played anything yet).”
Little did he realise that this was not an average 17-year-old. And in less than three years, he had a luxury car in his garage after the T20 World Cup triumph. Lad himself admits that he never realized that there was this bullish but quiet self confidence in his ward.
“He has always been selfless even when he would captain his school team. What you are seeing today isn`t something that happened overnight. Forgetting about own milestones and playing the role for his team has been his forte,” Lad said.
Lad said that after the initial high of 2007 T20 World Cup and the year-end CB Series in Australia, Rohit faced a lull between 2009 and 2011, with the lowest point being missing out on a World Cup selection.
“I remember him telling me, `Sir, you won`t have any complaints that I don`t work hard. I will devote a lot of time on my game`, he promised. And you can say, he has kept his promise,” the proud coach said.
Those who come up through the ranks, facing a lot of hardships, know a lot about adjustments, and the Indian skipper is one such character.
“I am a disciple of late Ramakant Achrekar. He was my guru and he wouldn`t even take a penny if the student wasn`t talented. When I saw Rohit and wanted him to get admission to our school (Swami Vivekananda School Borivali)…
“The monthly tuition fee was Rs 275 and his parents couldn`t afford that. I had to convince the principal and school management and Rohit Sharma was the first talented player allotted `free-ship`. He was that talented that I couldn`t have let him go.”
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A friendly character who is ready to stand by his player if he believes in him, it does make a player go that extra yard, like Shreyas Iyer put it succinctly after the semi-finals.
“I was under pressure but the skipper`s faith in me was very essential. He told me that we (management) have faith in you and whatever is being said is outside noise,” Iyer told the broadcasters about his captain`s role in his turnround.
The most beautiful sight after India`s semi-final victory over New Zealand was an ecstatic Rohit with his hands up in the air, smiling while looking skywards.
The captain has done his hard yards and it is time for his teammates to win it for their skipper. You can`t wait for the captain to flash that smile. That`s as priceless as the World Cup.
(With agency inputs)
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