Rohit's long-drawn saga: Opportunity seized, promise fulfilled
Rohit Sharma’s 127 is not just a debut Test hundred. It is a tribute to fortitude, perseverance and self-belief, says Bikash Mohapatra
When Australia scored a 400-plus total, batting first, in the third Test against India in Mohali, it seemed an effort good enough to save the match.
The visitors had lost the opening two matches and were on the verge of losing three straight times to India for the first time in their history.
However, with the opening day’s play not possible -- owing to bad weather -- and Australia putting up a formidable first innings total, a draw seemed the only possible result.
Then a debutant walked out to bat and changed the course of the match.
Shikhar Dhawan’s blitzkrieg 187 not only helped India win the match, but also helped them stay on course for a first ever whitewash over Australia, something that was duly achieved by winning the fourth and final Test at Ferozshah Kotla.
The whirlwind knock made Dhawan the 13th Indian batsman to score a century on Test debut.
Eight months on, the country had a 14th member in that elite list, during the opening Test against West Indies at the Eden Gardens.
Rohit Sharma’s 127 is not just a debut Test hundred; it is a tribute to fortitude, perseverance and self-belief.
Image: Rohit Sharma celebrates on completing his half century
For more than six years Rohit failed to make the cut in the Test squad
And, mind you, the innings is an antithesis of Dhawan’s effort. He got an opportunity and grasped it with both hands.
Rohit was made to wait. More than six years after making his debut for Indian in the shorter format, and despite his talent being acknowledged, the batsman just couldn’t make the cut for the Test team.
There seemed an oasis in the desert of hope. But it proved to be a mirage.
Scheduled to make his Test debut in the opening Test against South Africa, back in February 2010, he suffered a freak accident just hours before the start of the match and missed out.
For the next three-and-a-half years he was never in the team’s scheme of things. It seemed an endless wait. Ironically, it was another injury -- a shoulder strain to Ravindra Jadeja -- that ensured Rohit finally got a Test cap.
But, unlike Dhawan, it wasn’t a bed of roses for Rohit. When the former came out to bat, India wasn’t exactly under pressure -- the team having already taken an unassailable lead in the series.
Image: Rohit Sharma plays a shot on Day 2 of the 1st Test against the West Indies at Eden Gardens on Thursday
Rohit didn't let the pressure get to him
Rohit came out to bat with India reduced to 82 for four. He witnessed the fifth wicket (Virat Kohli) fall. For someone playing in his maiden Test it was, probably, the worst situation to come out to bat in.
But the 26-year-old did not let the occasion bog him down. The fact that he was among the runs in the just-concluded One-Day series against Australia -- including a magnificent 209 in the decider at Chinnaswamy stadium -- served as a confidence booster.
More of an obedient partner in the 73-run sixth wicket stand with captain M S Dhoni (42), Rohit led the way in the partnership for the seventh wicket with R Ashwin, the two adding 198 runs to help India regain control, if not ensure the result in their favour.
Rohit got to the three-figure mark in style, hitting fellow-debutant Sheldon Cottrell for three successive boundaries. The second boundary, in fact, did the trick; the third served as a perfect celebration.
The Mumbai batsman had waited long enough for this opportunity. When it finally came, Rohit made it count.
Image: Rohit Sharma scores through the on-side on Day 2 of the 1st Test against West Indies at Eden Gardens on Thursday