A rewarding career

Some players make their mark quickly, while some players take their time - Rohit Sharma falls in both categories. As confusing as it may sound, here’s a simplified version - he broke into the Indian limited overs team 10 years ago at a raw age of 20. He even made it to the inaugural WT20 winning squad. Apart from a few good performances, Rohit took time to seal his spot in the middle order. He eventually nailed it as an opener, and there has been no looking back since. Now, he has been appointed captain for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, in Kohli’s absence. Things haven't been smooth though for him. One of the most talented batsmen to play this game, he has had a roller-coaster career so far, but it definitely is on its way up at the moment.

It has been a tough ride for Rohit Sharma. After making his international debut in 2007 in Ireland, Rohit didn't take a lot of time to announce his arrival on the international stage. He scored important runs for the visitors in the historic CB Series win for Team India, which was their first ever ODI series victory Down Under. Subsequently, he was branded as the ‘Next Big Thing’ in Indian cricket, and had to soak in the pressure of immense expectations early on in his career. If Sachin Tendulkar will be remembered for his valuable knocks in the CB Series finals, then Rohit Sharma was the silent assassin. He stitched a magnificent partnership with the Little Master when India were in trouble in the first final and that set the tone & the momentum for the Men in Blue. He seemed to be destined for success! However, certain things in life aren't easy and Rohit Sharma learnt that the hard way, struggling for consistency and form for the larger part of his early career.

Interestingly, Rohit Sharma had made his international debut, almost a year before Virat Kohli did. However, cut to present day, Kohli is the captain in all three formats, Rohit has slowly and steadily become an integral part of the side which has now, finally given him a chance to show his captaincy skills and lead Team India in Kohli's absence. It shows that these ten years weren't easy for the Mumbai batsman. He kept fighting hard, didn't give up and had a strong will. He was never short of talent and there is no doubting his ability as a batsman. Consistency however was an issue, but Rohit has ironed it all out over time. When he gets going, he becomes one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world but when he struggles, things suddenly look frustrating, even for his most loyal fans.

Despite scoring runs consistently in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Rohit has found it tough to put together consistent performances for the Men in Blue. It all fell in place during the 2013 Champions Trophy, when the move to promote him as an opener worked wonders for him and Team India. It was a master-stroke and the stylish batsman from Mumbai hasn’t looked back since. His first six years didn't justify his talent. However, 2013 was a magical year for Rohit as he smashed record after record. He was instrumental during India’s victorious Champions Trophy campaign, and then broke records aplenty against Australia, later in the year during the ODI series. Rohit made batting look extremely easy with his big tons. He found consistency in his game, and gradually blossomed into an extremely dangerous batsman. He announced himself in style in the final ODI against Australia as he smashed a brutal double century, becoming the third Indian to achieve this historic feat in the process. He was hitting sixes left, right and centre;; he was simply unstoppable! He also made his Test debut later that year and scored centuries in his first two innings in whites.

Rohit's achievements were laudable, and he was becoming the talk of the town. Connoisseurs and experts were left in awe of that extra bit of time he always seemed to have when he played his shots. Just when things were panning out nicely for Rohit, he got injured in 2014 on the back of a sensational 2013, where he had scored over a 1000 runs. Rohit did not let this injury derail him. He was out for a couple of months, but he announced his return to the national side in style – hammering his second double century in ODIs, a historic 264 against Sri Lanka. It is still the highest ever individual score in the history of ODI cricket. Despite missing matches, he still ended up having an average over 50 in the year.

2015 was going to be a big test, not only for him but for the Indian team as well, considering the ODI World Cup was being held in Australia. Rohit ended up being the second-highest scorer for India in their campaign which included a crucial century against Bangladesh in the quarter-final. It was another successful year for him as he ended up averaging over 50 once again, and scored three centuries.

Rohit started 2016 with a bang, smashing 171 not out and 124 against the Aussies in their own den. His 171 is still the highest individual score by a visiting batsman in Australia, against Australia. The year turned out to be another successful one for Rohit as he ended up averaging over 60. However, just when he appeared to look ominous, he got injured again during the home series against New Zealand. He could only get back to full fitness barely in time for the 2017 IPL season.

When you start having expectations, even a small hiccup becomes a talking point. However, Rohit Sharma has made sure to meet those expectations & deliver consistently. He has smashed five ODI centuries so far in this year and scored over 1000 runs. He has been a revelation at the top and has morphed into one of the best openers of the format and has gone from strength to strength ever since he was sent in as an opener. Without doubt, he has turned into one of the most successful openers over the last few years.

If Rohit's initial years didn't yield consistent performances, it was his IPL form that instilled faith in the selectors over him, and it has paid rich dividends. Virat Kohli admires Rohit for his talent, lauds his performances and he loves batting with him the most. With Kohli being rested, Rohit has been handed over the captaincy for the Sri Lanka ODI series. He is all set to become the 24th Indian skipper and the 7th player from Mumbai to lead the national side.

It remains to be seen how Rohit uses his captaincy experience that he has amassed in the IPL at the international level. He is by far, the most successful captain in the IPL, with a record three titles under his belt. Right from taking over the captaincy mid-season in 2013 and ending up winning MI’s first IPL, to lifting the second cup in 2015 and then winning his record third trophy this year, it has been nothing short of a dream year for Rohit Gurunath Sharma. In just a few days, he will be living his dream by leading from the front in national colours.

With already five centuries under his name this year in ODIs, he is all set to lead Team India with form by his side. It is going to be a short stint as captain for Rohit, but it could prove vital for him and the national side as well. He has made a habit of creating records, not just records but making sure no one gets near him. All eyes will be on him, on his captaincy when he takes the field during the ODI series and we wish he tastes more and more success.

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