In a country where cricket is next to religion, and where billions dream of raising the bat one day in front of a full-packed screaming stadium in the blue jersey, can you imagine how difficult it is to become a part of the Dream 11? The odds are one in a billion. This was the probability of Rohit Sharma, a boy of humble parents belonging to a middle-class background, to make a career in cricket.
It is his sheer talent and dedication that gave wings to his dreams and inspired many to dream big. Today, as the Vice-captain of the Indian team and the Captain of one of the most successful IPL teams- Mumbai Indians, Rohit Sharma’s time on the pitch can only be outdone by the high pitches of the crowd for him. His sixes accelerates heartbeats of a billion hearts, at once.
Rohit was born on 30 April 1987, to parents who could not afford to raise him because of poverty. When he was just one and a half years old, his family had to shift to Dombivali, and Rohit majorly grew up with his grandparents and uncles. He was ambitious since childhood, and his interest in sports developed because of his uncles, who were all sports-lovers and cricket players at school and college levels. Thus, like most children of this country, Rohit’s entire childhood was spent in his gullies playing cricket without any track of time. Eying his passion for the game, Rohit’s uncles pitched in Rs. 50 each and admitted him to a small cricket academy in 1999. What’s ironic is that Rohit, who is now known for his skills with the bat, started off as a spinner. His coach, Dinesh Lad believed in his potential and convinced his family to change his school to Swami Vivekanand International School, as it offered better sports training facilities. At first, Rohit himself was hesitant to join the new school knowing his family’s financial condition, but his coach managed to get him a four-year scholarship based on his cricketing skills. While he started off as a spinner, his coach identified his unique ability to bat as well. He started batting on no.8 and no.9, but confident in his talent, his coach asked him to open in his first inter-school match. Not the one to let down, he scored an unbeaten 120 and looked in a better form in each match going forward.
He debuted in domestic cricket for West Zone against Central Zone in the Deodhar Trophy of 2005. However, it was his score of 142 off 123 balls against North Zone in Udaipur that put limelight on him. His debut in Ranji trophy and a double century against Gujarat became the highlight of that season. However, apart from this century, he did not put up a good show, which made him nervous about his selection in the Indian team. Nonetheless, selectors could see his potential and at 20, he was included in the Indian team to play against Ireland. Can you imagine, it was his international debut and he did not even get a chance to bat! Even though his talent became a topic of discussion, he continued to struggle to establish himself as a dependable player. Thankfully giving up did not even cross his mind. Luck favoured him, and he helped India win a crucial match against South Africa in the inaugural T-20 World cup by scoring a half-century. This was his first Man of the Match performance, internationally.
Even after such a stunning knock-out, he couldn’t make a place in the Indian team permanently. He made occasional appearances on the field, but nothing noteworthy, for long five years! Due to his unstable performance, could not even make a place in the ICC World Cup 2011 team. Until December 2012, Rohit had only played 81 innings and could not score more than 2000 runs at an average of just 30, and only two centuries to his name, that too scored against Zimbabwe. Rohit was aware that in cricket one does not get many chances to prove his mettle. Hundreds of careers that once seem extraordinary, have died down in the face of uncertainty. While one would have easily given up seeing a dead end, Rohit held a rare faith in himself. He knew that one day, tables will turn for good. He stuck around with hope, and never let any opportunity, big or small pass his hands. Even though he did not have any applause-worthy track record yet, he continued to work on his skills. He continued to sharpen his axe, for he knew, there would come a day he would strike. Indeed, the day comes, he strokes and how! In 2013, the then captain MS Dhoni backed Rohit Sharma to open again at the Champions Trophy. He had seen Rohit’s ability to open in the ODI and wanted to groom him as a fierce opener India was missing after the poor performance at the time by Sehwag, Gambhir, Rahane, and Vijay. His trust in him boosted Rohit’s performance and shaped his career as an opener.
The rest is history. Rohit Sharma merely did not settle to play safely in order to make his presence felt after a long drought of opportunity. He grabbed his chance as an opener, and like a storm, has been unstoppable ever since! His pairing with Shikhar Dhawan is counted among the legendary opening partnerships in India. With Rohit, India has found a solid opener, whose hits are a marvel, and who can flip matches with his effortless skills. He is also one of the most successful captains of IPL, all seasons combined; having 2 IPL titles to his name. His records are transcendent. From being the first player in the history of cricket to have scored 3 double centuries to breaking records of legends such as Shane Watson, AB De Villiers, and the likes, he is a stalwart.
Rohit Sharma’s success is no surprise despite his shaky start. Of course, his talent has earned him merit. But it is his sheer patience, and hard work on his skills irrespective of the doubts whether he’ll be able to play for long or no, is the real deal. He continued to focus on what was in his control, I.e. his game and left the rest. He toiled endlessly leaving no option for success to bow down to him. He had many hits and misses with the opportunities, but being a true HITman he hit off each obstacle in his path right out of the stadium.