World Cup 2019 Most Runs: For wholesome mastery, there’s Virat Kohli; for ingenuity, there is Steve Smith; for batting for your life, there is Kane Williamson but to replenish a burnt-out soul, who else but Rohit Sharma?
Sachin Tendulkar, India’s greatest batsman, had six hundreds in all world cups. Sharma has six from two world cups, a world-record five in this one alone. Here is another incredible stat: Tendulkar played 45 world cup matches; Sharma has had 16 games. Let it sink in: six from 16
And he only needs 27 more runs to overhaul Tendulkar’s record run-tally (673 in 2003) in a single world cup. Here’s one more: in the last 12 months, Sharma has scored 2,063 runs in 34 innings with 10 hundreds. No one in history has piled up 10 centuries in a span of 365 days. Sharma has the highest average in the world cup (69.78) for anyone who has played at least 15 innings. The second Indian on the list, and fifth overall, is Rahul Dravid with 61.42 in 21 innings.
Sharma’s recent blitz has not just been a statistician’s delight but more importantly, his art has been enchanting to watch. To marry commerce with art, divorce productivity from the inherent banality – in essence, an artist who moonlights as a banker.
By the end of his career, Tendulkar had achieved a rare thing. He had taken the art of batting and tamed it, made it risk-free. A scientific art. Now, Sharma is in that zone, and with his style of batting, in theory, it should be that much tougher for him.
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Not because Tendulkar’s task was any easier but somewhere in the middle of his career, he had ditched flamboyance, settling for mass run-production. That’s what the team needed from the man they depended on the most to score. It used to be said that at the start of his career, Tendulkar was a mix of Gavaskar and Richards and at some point, he shelved the Richards persona and went the way of Gavaskar.
On the other hand, Sharma hasn’t made any drastic adjustment. But he certainly has changed his mentality and his own admission he has not been in a happier phase before. Marriage and in particular, fatherhood has helped him. But also, importantly, the success he saw as IPL captain. It kicked up a spike in maturity, and also one suspects, he is far more self-assured of himself, his talent, and what he can achieve.
When Angelo Matthews, a fine batsman by any yardstick, walked out after his hundred that lifted Sri Lanka from a hole, he was asked about the pitch. “A bit slow, a bit tacky, and turning as well. It’s kind of hard.”
Sharma obviously didn’t agree with that assessment. Slow? He creamed them on the up, shots that don’t come easily on sluggish tracks. Tacky? He leaned forward to unfurl a gorgeous whip through midwicket off Lasith Malinga, the bowler most suited for tacky pitches. Spin? At the first sighting of spin, he danced down the track to lift Dhananjaya Silva for two sixes in his first over. Game over.
It was that cracking whip through the leg side that would stay on. Not because he hasn’t played them before but because he has been cautious with it this world cup. From the first match onwards, if there was one shot that he has been relatively wary of, it has been that wristy flick.
In the first couple of matches, against South Africa and Australia, he had almost been caught out flicking. Against Australia, he was even dropped off one such shot. After the first instance of the shots going awry, he had shelved it almost in those games.
Slowly, as the tournament has progressed, the flick shots started coming and that shot against Malinga topped it all. India will hope he can dig deep and come up with two more sweet big knocks.