Change in approach pays off for Rohit Sharma

Change in approach pays off for Rohit Sharma
In what has been one of his most productive years, Rohit Sharma was under no real pressure to get amongst big runs in the third ODI against New Zealand on Sunday after picking up two low scores in the first two matches.

Prior to the decider, in which he was the man of the match for his robust 147, Rohit had already collected four centuries, five half-centuries and close to 1000 runs in 17 matches since his return to action this June in the Champions Trophy following an injury he had sustained in October 2016 during the fifth and final ODI against New Zealand in Visakhapatnam.

The twin failures, however, forced him to change his approach. In Mumbai, his ultra-aggressiveness had caused his downfall while in Pune, he had got out to a nothing shot in trying to be extra cautious. The right-hander, however, struck a balance in Kanpur to punish the Kiwi attack on an admittedly good surface which was well complemented by the fast outfield. He wasn’t throwing his bat at everything but never hesitated to put the bad balls away either.

“When I started off I started off very cautiously because I understand the threat of (Tim) Southee and (Trent) Bolt with the new ball,” said Rohit when asked to describe his innings on the day. “They bowl those wicket-taking deliveries any time. So I had to be more than careful to handle that threat. And once the shine of the ball was gone, it was about me not making mistakes and getting out. I have played here a few times now and I understand the nature of the wicket. So unless you make a mistake, you are not going to get out,” he pointed out.

The kind of form that Rohit has been in since his comeback, it is easy to get carried away and blur the line between being carefree and careless. It was a case of being careless in Mumbai when the Indian limited-overs vice-captain seemed to be on autopilot – trying to blast everything that was thrown at him.   
“When you are in good form, you like to play shots and get the team to a good start,” he said. “Then in Pune, I took my time and got out. Here it was a different situation and a different innings I played. I took a little bit of time initially, and then having played much cricket here, I understand the nature of the wicket. You get value for your shots. The outfield is lightning fast. It was just about timing the ball really well,” he reasoned.

The most pleasing aspect of his batting though has to be the way he carries on after making a 100. As an opener, he takes it upon himself to bat as long as possible once he is set. He has 15 ODI hundreds from his 171 matches and eight of them are 138 and above. He also holds the record for the highest individual knock in ODIs (264 against Sri Lanka) and is the only batsman to have scored two double hundreds.  

“The partnership is very important because if you keep the scoreboard ticking, it makes your job easier,” Rohit stressed, pointing to the 200-plus stand he had with Virat Kohli. “It’s all about rotating the strike, finding those odd boundaries in the middle. And that’s what I did.

We rotated the strike and we got those odd boundaries. And once you get to 100, unless you make a mistake, you are not going to get out. So that was the idea. Once you get to 100, you are set, you are seeing the ball well, you know exactly what the bowlers are doing and we (He and Kohli) were just trying to go as long as possible. I think I got out in the 41st or 40th over, but I thought till then we had the situation under control and we had nine wickets in hand,” he analysed.
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