As Rohit Sharma plays his 200th ODI on Thursday – joining 13 other Indian cricketers who have achieved the feat – it is impossible not to reflect on his international career and discuss whether he has in fact lived up to his initial promise. When he first really attracted notice during the 2007-08 Commonwealth Bank Series `Down Under’ no less an expert as Ian Chappell predicted a “huge future’’ for him. The acerbic former Australian captain is not given to hyperbole and so for him to come out with such gushing praise was quite unexpected though it also underlined the considerable impact Rohit made with his dynamic batting skills.
Though he first made his mark in the limited overs game there was always the feeling that Rohit could also come good in Test cricket. He was after all a graduate from the Mumbai School of batting which teaches patience and perseverance, the ability to build an innings and amass hundreds and double hundreds. His first class record seemed to back him up and when he finally got an opportunity to play in the game’s traditional format he grabbed it gloriously scoring hundreds in his first two Test innings. But somewhere along the line he faltered and after playing 27 Tests he has scored only one further hundred and his average during his fragmented career is fractionally below 40 – a figure not in keeping with his initial promise.
Rohit hasn’t cemented a place in the Test side but in ODIs he has gone from strength to strength. One simple fact would underline his exalted status in the limited overs game. Out of eight double hundreds notched up in ODIs Rohit alone has hit three and that has given him the sobriquet `Hitman’ which will no doubt please him no end. With Shikhar Dhawan he has formed one of the most successful opening partnerships in ODI history. With nearly 8000 runs at an average of 48 with 22 hundreds allied to a strike rate of 88 Rohit takes his place as one of the most successful batsmen in ODIs.
All the same one cannot help looking wistfully as his very impressive first class record – over 6500 runs at an average of 54 with 20 hundreds and a highest score of 309 not out – and wonder why he could not have rather similar figures in Test cricket. To that extent Rohit Sharma will remain one of the biggest enigmas of Indian cricket.