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Top 13: The best of Rohit Sharma for Team India

June 23, 2007: Trying to flick RP Singh over the infield, Ireland’s Niall O’Brien shuffles across his stumps, closes the face of the bat and gets a leading-edge. The ball, high in the air, goes to mid-off, and a young Rohit Sharma moves across from extra cover to complete his first catch in ODI cricket.

Loaded with talent and doing complete justice to the rich history of stroke makers that Mumbai’s cricketing fraternity has produced over the years, Rohit Sharma earned his first call-up to the national side during India’s tour of Ireland in 2007 after scoring plenty of runs in the domestic circuit.

Timing was a gift to him but Sharma worked equally hard to make it count. More finesse and with less power, he was a treat to the eyes of those who saw him score big runs across the maidans of Mumbai. When he smashed Morne Morkel over cow corner later that year at the inaugural T20 World Cup, the world knew what he was capable of.

13 years on, Rohit Sharma has established himself as a renowned batsman in the cricketing world. With 14,029 runs, 39 centuries and 423 sixes across all formats to his name, he's often referred to as the Hitman.

We take you through some of his best international performances, one year at a time.

2007

50* (40) vs South Africa, WT20 (T20I)

In what was a must-win encounter at Durban, the Men in Blue were struggling at 61/4. Rohit Sharma came out to bat for the first time in a T20I game and struck a brilliant half-century. He stayed not out till the end as India managed to put up a total of 153 on board and eventually qualify for the semis.

2008

66 (87) vs Australia, CB Series Final (ODI)

India were reduced to 87/3 while chasing 240 as they faced Australia in the first of the best of three finals at SCG. How often will people remember a batsman who is batting alongside Sachin Tendulkar? However, Rohit displayed his fluent batting with the Master Blaster as they compiled a 123-run partnership. The world took notice and India went on to win the game by six wickets.

2009

52* (45) vs Ireland, WT20 (T20I)

After a wonderful bowling performance, India were set a target of 113. Rohit opened the innings for India scored a splendid fifty and ensured there was no trouble. He stayed not out as the Men in Blue chased the target with more than four overs to spare.

2010

79* (46) vs Australia, WT20 (T20I)

India began their WT20 campaign against Australia who put up a total of 184/5 batting first. Rohit walked out to bat at No.4 as India were reduced to 12/2. While wickets kept falling at regular intervals from one end, Rohit single-handedly continued to torment the Aussies with the bat as he hit 6 sixes and 4 boundaries. Nine batsmen failed to cross double figures but Rohit remained unbeaten against the eventual finalists.

2011

86* (91) vs West Indies (ODI)

In India’s first game after the 2011 World Cup victory, Rohit got a chance and he proved why he deserved to be at the top-level with a Man of the Match performance in the Caribbean.

In the third ODI at Antigua, he helped India snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. Chasing 226 runs, the visitors had been reduced to 92/6. Batting with the tailenders, Rohit displayed a high level of perseverance. He stayed unbeaten on 86 as India went on to win the game by three wickets.

2012

55* (33) vs England, WT20 (T20I)

India elected to bat first against defending champions England at Colombo. Coming in to bat at No.4, Rohit played a quick-fire knock with an amazing strike rate of 166.67. His unbeaten half-century helped India post a total of 170 on board. The Englishmen failed to pose any kind of threat as they were all out for 80 runs.

2013

209 (158) vs Australia (ODI)

2013 was a magical year for Rohit as a batsman. He managed to establish his authority as an opener in the Indian limited-overs setup with some fascinating performances. It also turned out to be a dream Test debut as he scored back-to-back centuries against the Windies at home.

However, the highest point of that year was the double century against Australia in the series decider. Batting first, Rohit went on to slam his first-ever double century in ODIs. With a major chunk of runs coming in the last few overs, Rohit hit a total of 16 maximums which was a world record then. India went on to win the high-scoring thriller as Hitman was named as the Man of the Series.

2014

264 (173) vs Sri Lanka (ODI)

Returning back from an injury is never easy but nothing is impossible when it comes to the Hitman. Within the last couple of years, Rohit had been making a merry at Eden Gardens, winning the IPL while captaining Mumbai Indians and scoring a century on Test debut. His majestic knock in the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka was the icing on the cake.

If his knock of 209 was a sign of his ferociousness with the bat, then you would run out of words to describe this one. From reaching his half-century in 72 balls to scoring 264 runs from 173 balls, Rohit set innumerable records right from the highest ODI score to hitting the most number of boundaries in an innings. Moreover, even the whole Sri Lankan team couldn't surpass Rohit's knock that day.

2015

137 (126) vs Bangladesh, World Cup (ODI)

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Playing his first-ever 50-over World Cup, Rohit had scored two fifties. In the quarterfinal, Rohit launched himself against the Bangladeshi bowling attack and also scored his first World Cup century in the process. His innings of 137 (126) proved to be the difference between both sides as India qualified for the semi-final.

2016

171* (163) vs Australia (ODI)

Rohit began 2016 in style as he scored a magnificent century against the defending champions in the first ODI. While the deck at WACA hadn't been the same as yesteryears, his unbeaten knock of 171 had class written all over it. It was the highest individual score by an Indian cricketer against Australia on their soil.

2017

118 (43) vs Sri Lanka (T20I)

2017 was yet another year where Rohit displayed his excellence with the bat. A century in the Champions Trophy semi-final against Bangladesh that paved the way for the Men in Blue into the finals or a record third double century in ODIs vs Sri Lanka. Rohit was absolutely unstoppable but it was the T20I century at the end of the year that took the cake.

Leading from the front, Rohit had made his intentions clear as he started hammering sixes against the Sri Lankan bowlers in the initial overs. With four sixes in a single Thisara Perera over, Rohit went on to register a 35-ball hundred, which was also the joint-fastest century in T20Is. He got out in the 13th over scoring 118 (43) with 10 sixes and 12 boundaries. India registered a total of 260/5, their highest in T20Is.

2018

100* (56) vs England (T20I)

In what was the series decider between both teams at Bristol, England registered a huge total of 198/9 on board. Rohit began in full swing as he flicked David Willey over midwicket for a six on the third ball of the game. The Indian opener stood out with the bat as he scored his third T20I century off just 56 balls. He alongside Hardik Pandya's onslaught helped India finish the game with more than an over to spare.

2019

212 (255) vs South Africa (Test)

2019 will remain as a special year for the Hitman. He became the first-ever captain to win four IPL titles but more was to follow at the highest level. He smashed a record five centuries at the biggest stage, i.e. the World Cup against prominent sides which also included the eventual World Champions England.

Carrying his great form, Rohit had a new task at hand - that of an opener in Tests. He started off with fabulous knocks of 176 and 127 in the first Test against South Africa. However, his best came in the third Test where he slammed his first-ever double century in the longest format.

India were kept reeling at 39/3 after electing to bat first. Rohit who batted patiently in the first session took charge after lunch. He started attacking the spinners and went on to slam his sixth Test century. Day 2 witnessed a more aggressive style of play from Rohit  scoring 212 runs from just 255 balls. India won the game by an innings and 202 runs and Rohit was named as the Man of the Series.

Bonus

2020

65 (40) vs New Zealand (T20I)

Rohit Sharma may not have played a lot of cricket in 2020 owing to an injury followed by the pandemic. However, he still managed to make a mark. While he scored a century against Australia at home, it was his knock at Hamilton where he rose to the occasion twice.

Batting first, he helped India get off to a good start with a 40-ball 65. The match ended up going to a Super Over after a nail-biting tie. With 10 runs required off the last two deliveries, Rohit hit consecutive sixes to help India take an unassailable lead in the series.

As cricket resumes, it will be interesting to see what the Hitman has to offer. It has been a phenomenal journey so far and we hope that Rohit continues to shatter records at will.