Thursday, May 01, 2008

On his righthandedness Rohit Sharma

IPL's Deccan Chargers sank to another defeat today (Well, yesterday - the clock struck 12 just now). The match did not even turn out to be close in the end. Warnie is the new Australian Guru in Indian shores even as the old one is still around nearby in the same state of Rajasthan. In fact Warnie is one up - in addition to coaching the Rajasthan Royals he is also captain and key bowler of the team (not just at the nets or behind the bowling machine).

Something in this DC-vs-RR match will linger on in our minds though. In the final overs of the Hyderabad innings we went back to sepia tinted mode. We were back to a once familiar sight of number eights and nines struggling to last and connect every ball to hand over the strike to the well set specialist batsman at the other end. There was every chance of remaining wickets all collapsing in a single over with the number four stranded. This used to be quite a common cause for chewed up nails for supporters during the 80's and even early nineties in all pre-T20 forms of the game. [Famous example: Richie Richardson in the 1996 WC semi final]

A little more specifically familiar was the way all that tension in the air would vanish for some moments whenever the number four was taking strike for one or two balls in the over. He was hitting everything his partners allowed him to face for a four or a six. Every one of those was an absolutely gorgeous cricketing shot played with all the time, elegance and disdain in the world.
Gosh, those exquisite drives through cover were something else. Aah - those pulls. And those lofted drives - slurrp. Those ugly hoicks - absent!

"Wasn't that Brian Lara batting for the West Indies on one of those days of his?"
"Nope, he retired around this time last year. "
"Wasn't there a technical snag in the telecast which they decided to fill in with a replay of Brian's logic defying 153* with Curtly & Courtney in Barbados 1999?"
"Nah - the ball was red and the attire was white in that match rather than the other way round. This man's wearing a biscuit shaded suit. And your Brian was left handed, silly."

That was I talking with me2. And I soon realised what me2 was saying. Yes, this was another match and that was Rohit Sharma of India. Yes, Brian was not number 4 but number 5 in the 1999 match. Yes, Rohit's classicism has more home grown Indian spice than Brian's Caribbean dash. And yes - Rohit's speciality had to end too quickly for my liking as the twenty overs were over.

Wonder what this game, in all three formats, has in store for Rohit Sharma's rare batting talent if he carries it forward thus. Earlier in the day Peter Roebuck hailed IPL in this piece but he also said:
"..India has not produced a high-class batsman for a decade."

We, Rohit's compatriots, will hope to say "you were wrong, mate" to Peter one day.

Meanwhile since it is already May 2nd, let us say 'Happy Birthday' to the guy Rohit so much resembled today in lateral inversion. We have just completed a year of missing the Prince. It was tough and that gaping hollow even made some like me drift away a little from our favourite sport. Let us hope this new kid fills some of it up by showing glimpses of that unmistakable combination of batting genius and audacious flair more often.

Update: Youtube video of the innings highlights including some of Rohit's boundaries can be viewed here.

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