Rohit back with a bang

Right-hander needs to prove his mettle on tough overseas tours
Last Updated 14 November 2014, 18:05 IST

By the time, Rohit Sharma finished enthralling us with his world record 264 on Thursday, the Twitter world had gone abuzz with messages from around the world.

His teammates, friends from Mumbai, former cricketers and fans were jostling to leave their congratulatory line in his Twitter account -- @IamRo45.

But as it happens in the social media, contrarian views too were there, challenging Rohit to emulate the feat in Australia.

Of course, the general Australian proclivity to taunt the opposition players might have played a large part in them, but Rohit’s last three trips outside India offer interesting read.

In the months between December 2013 and August 2014, Rohit visited South Africa, New Zealand and England with varying degree of success.

Rohit embarked on those tours on the back of his first one-day international double hundred (209) against Australia at Bengaluru in last November.

Naturally, the expectations were sky high. But as he has done several times in the past, Rohit failed to meet the expectations during those trips, showing a frustrating streak of inconsistency.

South Africa was an unmitigated disaster. He failed to cross fifty even once in two Tests and three one-dayers.

The third one-dayer at Centurion captured his struggles in bright hues. Dale Steyn tormented Rohit outside the off-stump so much that the Mumbaikar was beaten 15 balls in a row in that channel.

From three one-dayers, Rohit made 37 runs at 18.50, and from two Tests he collected 45 runs at 11.25, as he was brought down from the pedestal with a loud thud.

Rohit fared slightly better in New Zealand. Five one-dayers fetched him 145 runs at 29 with one fifty, while he scored 122 runs from two Tests with a fifty at 40.66.

England was again a downer. He played just one Test at Southampton but a rash shot off Moeen Ali just before tea led to his dismissal.

More significantly, his dismissal allowed England bowlers to have crack at Indian tail early, and eventually the home side emerged comfortable winner, a result that turned the course of the rest of the series.

Rohit never got a look in after that in the Tests.

He played only one match in the one-day series before going out of the tour with a fractured finger after the Cardiff tie.

However, he got a fifty in that match that India won effortlessly.

The next couple of months were intense hard work and rehabilitation for Rohit, tending to his fractured finger and injured shoulder.

It meant that Rohit missed the Champions League campaign with the Mumbai Indians and the series against West Indies, which was eventually called off midway.

The right-hander also didn’t feature in the first three one-dayers in the series against Sri Lanka, the selectors allowing him extra few days to reach better fitness levels.

Rohit showed his readiness for top-flight cricket with a blistering hundred in a warm-up game against the Lankans.

He bettered that effort in the historic Eden Gardens in stunning fashion.

Now, Rohit will leave for Australia in a week’s time for a trip that includes four Tests, a triangular series and the World Cup.

It will be a massive test for Rohit’s skills and character. Australia are certain to roll out pitches with bounce to suit Mitchell Johnson & Co, and the first Test is at Brisbane, a venue known as the fort of the Aussies.

Along with the cricketing factors, Rohit also would have to banish the thoughts about not having a definitive away tour thus far in his career.

He admitted it. “You have to accept the failures and successes and keep moving on. That’s what I have done. I kept moving on. A couple of overseas failures will not stop my cricket. The hard work that I have put in will be on track for me always,” said Rohit.

Stand-in skipper Virat Kohli said a few days back that Rohit brings that X-factor to this Indian team.

Team director Ravi Shastri has marked him out to come good soon in all conditions.

So, Rohit has the backing of the team’s think tank.

Now, will he deliver in an important phase of Indian cricket or continue to exasperate us with those fleeting shows of his immense talent?

(Published 14 November 2014, 18:05 IST)

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