One hundred ODI games on and the debate on Rohit Sharma is far from being settled. As much as the ease of Rohits strokeplay convinces people of his talent,his temperament and technique continue to elicit doubt.
Against Zimbabwe in the second ODI at Harare there was something depressingly familiar about Rohits dismissal — an airy shot against the new ball flew to second slip. It was not too different from his dismissal in the previous game,or for that matter,from several dismissals through his career.
Rohit would certainly have eyed the Zimbabwe series with interest. The opposition was weak but more significantly,for the first time in his career,he was in a position to prove himself a consistent hit. In 12 games before the Zimbabwe tour,he had run up five half-centuries and was coming off a Man of the Tournament performance in the West Indies.
Two edges and 21 runs (from two games) later,Rohit finds himself sliding the habitual slide.
He made his debut in 2007,but it wasnt until the tri-series in Zimbabwe in 2010 that he had a standout tournament,scoring two hundreds and averaging 86.66. In the next 15 games across four series,Rohit made 245 runs at an average of 17.5. The poor run through the second half of 2010 pretty much cost him a place in the World Cup squad.
Post World Cup,Rohit hit form once more when the West Indies visited India in late 2011,with three 50s in five games. Again,he underwhelmed immediately after,scoring 168 runs in 14 subsequent games (over four series) at 12.92.
Rohit came to Zimbabwe with the best chance to build on a steady run. He had had a great tour of the West Indies (217 runs at 54.25) and during the earlier Champions Trophy campaign,established himself at the top of the order. Any kind of run here and he would have headed to what is surely going to be a testing tour of South Africa with a measure of confidence. Instead,he finds himself taking the customary regressive step after putting his foot forward,like he has done for much of his ODI career.
After his 50th game,Rohit averaged 31.52. After 100 games,the batsman now averages 31.79.
(Raakesh is a principal correspondent,based in New Delhi)