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Rohit Sharma and IPL — Resurgence of the hitman

Besides being the third most capped IPL player, Sharma is now the most successful IPL captain with over 60 percent wins.

May 23, 2017 / 03:10 PM IST
Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma

In February 2013, while playing an Irani Cup match, Rohit Sharma walked back to the pavilion having scored a duck. The sizeable home crowd jeered, "Maggi! Maggi!" A clueless fan asked another one, "why Maggi?" The other replied, "Maggi takes two minutes to be prepared, Rohit gets out in two minutes!"

That summed up Rohit's form. Little did anyone think that the following months were going to turnaround his career forever.

In April 2013, two of cricket's most revered players Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar would walk out to open the innings for the Mumbai Indians (MI). Much to fans' dismay, the duo didn’t last too long. By the end of the month, Ponting's sub-par form had forced him to drop out thereby vacating the captain's position.

Mumbai Indians scrambled to find a worthy successor mid-season. Sachin Tendulkar had voluntarily given up captaincy two year ago and Harbhajan Singh was not favoured in spite of winning the Champions League T20 (CLT20) in 2011.

Having averaged 31 for the Deccan Chargers over four years between 2008 and 2011, Sharma's appointment as the captain was met with awe. Critics wrote off Sharma citing lack of experience in the position and inconsistency while playing for India.

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Though the Borivali-lad had big shoes to fill, he was out to prove a point. Mumbai Indians reorganised itself around Sharma who scored 538 runs in the 2013 IPL at an average of over 38 — his highest ever. Driven by Sharma’s  batting performance and refreshingly new tactics as the captain, Mumbai lifted its first Indian Premier League (IPL) title, beating archrivals Chennai Super Kings in the final.

Six months later and a month before Tendulkar retired in 2013, Sharma led the star-studded Mumbai team to win their second CLT20 title — a parting gift for Sachin.

The following year, MI staged a backdoor entry into the playoffs after having lost all of their United Arab Emirates leg matches (The tournament was played in the UAE for a month on account of general elections in India). Sharma's tactics of choosing to bat first were questioned on several occasions as the team failed to defend the title.

MI’s second IPL win in 2015 put Rohit in the elite captains' club. He had by then transformed the team into the most successful IPL franchise.

In spite of the team not qualifying for the playoffs (worst performance in seven years), Rohit averaged more than 44.

Coming out of an injury, the 'Hitman' had a forgettable IPL this year, scoring just 333 runs at an average of 23. However, his captaincy led Mumbai to win cricket's richest league for a record third time.

Somewhere along the IPL triumphs over the years, Sharma evolved into an extraordinary limited overs cricketer. He currently has the highest individual One Day International (ODI) score to his name (264) and is the only cricketer to have scored two double hundreds in the format.

Besides being the third most capped IPL player, Sharma is now the most successful IPL captain with over 60 percent wins.

Interestly, "Maggi" who has been in and out of the national cricket team because of inconsistent performances, has won more IPL titles than MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
first published: May 23, 2017 03:10 pm

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