Happy Birthday, Rohit Sharma

After the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, I was hoping for someone who could make me watch the game again with the same intensity as I used to. That was when I once again fell in love with Rohit Sharma. He, of course, doesn’t give me the same feel as Sachin Tendulkar, nobody can do that but he is the closest. I know it’s insane for a few but that’s how things are, right?

That was mainly because I have been following him since 2005 even before he made his Under 19 debut. The first big innings I watched him play was 140-odd runs in a domestic match. I instantly loved him for the way he dominated the bowlers. He was pretty much young back then.

Then it was during his under-19 time, 2006. Though he wasn’t a great performer during that tournament, I liked it whenever I saw his name in the papers. He played his under-19 alongside Pujara, Chawla, Pandey and a few more. Pujara was the man of the series in that World Cup. Still, I fell for Rohit Sharma and he became the player I wanted to see more of.

He soon made into the Indian side in 2007. Though he didn’t have great knocks back then, he did play an anchor role for a few cricketers to perform and in the World Cup T20 2007, he was one of the main cogs for MS Dhoni where Rohit used the opportunities offered to him. More than everything, he was a great fielder for the team. It was the match against Pakistan where he added a good partnership with MS Dhoni and eventually he was the man of that match. It was special.

He followed it with a half-century against Pakistan in ODIs, then the most famous ODI chase alongside Sachin Tendulkar in the Commonwealth Bank Series. Who can forget that?

When everyone thought he could be a great batsman for India in the middle-order, things failed, he failed. A form dim saw his place being taken by a few other players in the team and he slowly became a reserve batsman and even that spot was taken by Virat Kohli.

He went back to Ranji trophy, piled up runs. He had a triple century as well with made the selectors find it difficult to overlook him.

He was about to make his Test debut as he made to the squad as a back up player to VVS but he injured himself and had to wait for his debut in Tests.

After Sachin decided to rest himself, he then was selected back into ODI squad but was overlooked for Raina and Virat Kohli, then in 2010, he started to score big, scored two tons but yet again a dim form let him down when the World Cup was nearing.

Following a poor tournament against South Africa, he wasn’t selected for 2011 World Cup, blame his limited opportunities and he didn’t prove his worth back then. Still, he didn’t stop but worked hard. He was super hurt. He wanted to bounce back soon. Abhishek Nayar, the most selfless player we have ever seen, helped out Rohit Sharma both physically and mentally. He slowly started to come back into the team.

The back to back Man of the series award against West Indies really did make heads turn, especially the match-winning knock of 80-odd he played along with Harbhajan Singh to rescue India from deep trouble, added a lot of value to his CV. As a fan, I do remember how calm and composed he was during that knock.

A lot of credits should be given to Mumbai Indians and the captaincy. Despite a bad 2012, he became the captain Mumbai Indians, took the leadership under pressure and yet managed to win the cup for the first time. This acted as a major turnaround in his career.

Dhoni backed him to open the innings for the first time and I must say Rohit Sharma had a re-birth. With matches, he started to dominate every single team he came across and in the limited overs, he continues to dominate.

Going by the stats, he is the second best player only after Kohli in the limited-overs right now. In most of the stats, both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have similar numbers followed by Shikhar Dhawan.

Of course, Virat Kohli is class apart but Rohit Sharma has his own standards and he probably is the only player who can make us believe that double hundred is not a big score.

After Ricky Ponting’s pull shot, I fell in love with Rohit’s. The ease with which he can clear the boundaries, the way he can observe pressure to produce a big knock, the way he goes bizarre after getting past those triple figure mark, the way he leads his side, the way he comes out of the mental block every time. I can add more points to why I love him. To top this all, he was a player whom my God, Sachin Tendulkar backed. This one reason is all enough for me to love him more.

More than the cricket, I have been a fan of how he carries himself off the field as well. The way he keeps his word, the way he helped out his friends, Praveen Kumar especially. The way he tries his best to save the wildlife. I did learn a lot from Rohit Sharma the man.

Thank you, Rohit Sharma, for all the entertainment. You are probably one of the very few reasons why I watch the game now. Thank you for everything.

I badly wish that you make us all proud by lifting the World Cup.