The Mumbai nursery has been the cradle of Indian batting, feeding the team with batsmen of quality every generation. The side has won the Nation’s Premier Domestic Competition almost half the times the championship has been played. At any point of time, Mumbai will have one or two representatives in the National squad and time and again the Mumbaikars had been the nucleus of the side.
The list of India’s top batsmen includes two legends from Mumbai in the top two places. Sachin Tendulkar is compared to Sir Don by the man himself and holds almost every record in batting cards in both tests and ODIs barring a few. He has been the face of Indian team for nearly two decades. Tendulkar’s idol Sunil Gavaskar was the face of the side in the two decades before the Master Blaster made his name. Infact for many a wise cricket fan, Gavaskar is the best batsman to be produced from India.
The two men have carried the flame of Mumbai batting long and high with distinction. If this was not enough, the other names in the top ten batsmen of India includes Dilip Vengsarkar, Vijay Merchant, Ajit Wadekar, Dileep Sardesai, Vijay Manjrekar, Polly Umrigar are all accolade names in the annals of Indian cricket from the city of Mumbai.
Ever since Tendulkar established himself, none of the Mumbai batsmen where able cement themselves in the team permanently. Sanjay Manjrekar failed to live up to his father’s potential. Pravin Amre could not manage the rigours of Indian team. Vinod Kambli despite being touted to be as good if not more as Tendulkar lost his battle of conduct and fell out. Amol Mazumdar was unlucky to be born in a wrong era.
After a long while one Mumbai batsman to find a place in the team often has been Rohit Sharma. He made his debut against South Africa in the World T20 that India went on to win and in his very first outing made a good fifty to lead India to par score on a tough pitch. His shots stood out on the day. Unlike his compatriots and competitors Rohit’s game oozed class from day one.
His journey to the National side was rather quick. He had a rare chance of making his debut away from home when he played for India A against New Zeland A and he made a strong statement with a good fifty on a wicket when even established giants of Domestic cricket failed. His game was suited to both formats of cricket and was soon making his debut for the Indian team in ODIs just a season of domestic cricket behind him. However it was the T20 debut that show caused his ability to the world.
His first innings of repute was when he batted with Tendulkar to lead India to a win in the Finals of CB series. He matched the Master in shots and made his presence felt despite playing with the greatest name to have played for India. If Tendulkar was Bishma on that day for all his experience and class, Rohit was a worthy Abhimanyu playing alongside Bishma. However neither before nor after that innings, did he display his batting talent for a sustained period.
String of below par performances saw him being in and out of the ODI side. Every time he displays his extravagant talent with a shot or two that brings nostalgia of the craftsmen of Mumbai with the bat and he soon perishes throwing his wicket away. This had led to his downfall almost every time.
While the Team gambled to find a proper middle order for World Cup at home during 2009 and 2010, Rohit repeatedly got chances only to flounder. Unlike the cases of others like Raina, Rohit’s problem was not his technique which is the soundest in younger generation batsmen but his temperament left a lot to be desired.
Even in IPL, Rohit more often than not displayed his abilities for a brief period before he threw his wicket to balls that does not deserve his wicket. He did win a lot of matched from unbelievable situations yet he failed when the stage was set for him to roll on. In domestic leagues too there had been very few innings to justify the talent that he has. A Triple Century and a century in both the innings in Finals are too few examples of his master class.
His cover drives and pulls would leave most of the best in business gasping. He has such an authority in his shots that little can a bowler do when he is in flow. Unfortunate thing has been such authoritative periods do not last more than a few overs. He missed the bus of winning the World Cup and he is the one to blame for failing to make up the opportunities.
His chance of making test cap was the only time when fate intervened. All set to make his debut against South Africa in early 2010, Rohit injured himself moments before toss and Wriddhiman Saha won his cap only to fail. Once again against Australia last year end, Rohit was not given an opening in the test side despite poor display by the famed batsmen. But then he should have established himself ala Kohli since he got so many chances to play for Team India.
Time is ripe for him to make the mark. With a few spots open in the test side right now and in near future, Rohit is in the radar of selectors. Yet in the India A’s ongoing tour to West Indies, he has failed to do justice for his talent. Once sincerely can hope that he makes the most of it in the two more innings left in the tour and win a spot in test side.
His competition is heavy. Yet he is only one who can win a place in all three formats of the game. Pujara is more suited for the longer format if his game is an indication. Raina has been found out in tests and will be a fixture in ODIs. Rahane and Tiwary are yet to prove themselves in the International cricket. Rohit has seen it all. He has been the part of ODI side for 5 seasons despite his inability to cement a place. Unlike the others, he has been picked more for his talent than for performances.
It is high time he proves the selectors right. Not many players get ample time in the team as Rohit and that has got more to do with the talent he has rather than the weightage of runs under his belt. He has two examples to follow from his own city. He can look onto Tendulkar or Kambli. Hope that Rohit Gurunath Sharma ends up his career under the list headed by Tendulkar rather than Kambli. He is too precious a talent to be wasted.