“Hugely talented,”easy on the eye,” “classy strokemaker” and a long list of adjectives were commonly used to describe Rohit Sharma, but what the 27-year-old did at the Eden Gardens on Thursday will perhaps leave many of those people just dumbfounded (with the exception of Ravi Shastri, who has superhuman powers to find a sentence to describe just about anything).
On this early winter evening, he scored 264 runs, all by himself. A decade back that would have been what Shastri would describe a winning total.
The Mumbai batsman started off slowly, got a feel of the pitch, the Sri Lankan bowlers, and maybe sensed something in the air which told him ‘today is your day’. Dropped when he had scored just 4 runs by Thisara Perera off Shaminda Eranga’s bowling, Rohit did more than just justice for having lady luck of his side.
His innings was laced with 33 boundaries, a new record in ODIs, and 9 sixes. Not long ago Rohit was the butt of jokes and regarded by many as extremely lucky to have been given a neverendingly long rope by the BCCI and MS Dhoni. If his 209 at Bangalore wasn’t testimony to his talent, class and most of all ability to rise above the criticism he faced, this innings should just swallow this detractors like a gigantic black hole.
Rohit was playing after a three-month break, a fractured finger kept him out of the CLT20, and the truncated West Indies tour but he picked up from where he left in England in the practice game against the Lankans.
On Thursday, at the venue where he made his Ranji Trophy and Test debut for India, Sharma produced an innings of colossal value. Be it the classy leg glance for four to square leg, the perfectly balanced cut to point or the short arm jab for a massive six over deep mid-wicket, what he put on show was a batting manual with a more than a few bonus shots.
Much has already been spoken about the records he broke and new ones he has set after this match. Sitting atop the list of highest individual scorer in ODIs and bettering the feat of many legends of the game will give Rohit much needed confidence and he perhaps couldn’t have found a better time to get this masterclass.
The innings and victory was perhaps a fitting way to celebrate 150 years of what is the Mecca of Indian cricket. Rohit was kneaded around, peppered with criticism and faced a lot of heat about his ability to produce the goods when needed. Not only did the hitman show that a good cake takes time to bake, but served it up with a sumptuous layer of icing too.