Rampaging Rohit Sharma the right man. With his 121-run blitzkrieg, India captain Rohit Sharma booked his T20 World Cup ticket.

He wasn’t amused when Virender Sharma signaled four leg-byes after Rohit glanced Farid Malik for four first-ball, in the first over of the contest; after all, he was coming off ducks in his two previous games. He was exuberantly celebratory when Virat Kohli ran 25 yards to his right from long-off to snaffle a steepling skier under great pressure to get rid of Najibullah Zadran.

And he was beside himself with fury when, off the final delivery of the first Super Over, Mohammad Nabi and Rahmanullah Gurbaz ran two extra byes despite the ball ricocheting off the former’s pads for overthrows. Conventionally, batters don’t run when the ball deflects off their bat or body.

But Rohit hardly lapsed into great emotion when he brought up a magnificent century, his fifth in all Twenty20 Internationals and first in more than five years. Yes, there was the customary slump in the embrace of his partner Rinku Singh, who helped him add 190 after India had subsided to a scarcely believable 22 for four against Afghanistan in Bengaluru. Yes, he raised his bat towards the dugout, equal parts relieved and delighted. But there was no Tarzan-like yell, no frenzied whipping off of the helmet, no exaggerated leap in the air, no fist punching.

Rampaging Rohit Sharma the right man
Rampaging Rohit Sharma the right man

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Rohit’s Crucial Quest for Form (Rampaging Rohit Sharma the right man):

Rohit might have felt a touch of relief when he eventually allowed to get off the mark of his seventh delivery. No matter how many runs one might have amassed – Rohit has upwards of 18,000 of those in international cricket alone – the first runs in every new knock trigger a certain easing of the nerves, the satisfaction of knowing that one has got past the dreaded duck. Rohit had two of them on the bounce in his first T20Is in 14 months; surely, the itch for one run, just one run, would have been immense.

Few would have grudged him had he raised his bat in mock celebration at moving to 1. But 1 was not what Rohit was after. The dramatic collapse meant even if the series was already in the bag, plenty of work remained ahead of him. And that’s only within the smaller, more immediate context. Viewed from the larger-picture perspective, Rohit needed to make a statement, if only for himself. The last couple of IPLs weren’t particularly productive – he made only 268 runs in 14 matches in 2022 and 332 in 16 last year – and he boasted a solitary half-century in his previous 14 international T20 innings.

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Rohit Sharma’s Explosive Batting Display

Initially only slightly more than subdued, he took 41 deliveries to reach 50. That was during the stabilizing phase when India could ill afford a fifth setback. Then, without warning, he went into overdrive; 50 to 100 came off a further 23 deliveries, his last 71 runs off 28. It was mesmeric, brutal, and aesthetically pleasing; it had power, timing, and finesse. It was Rohit at his marauding best, his full range on view. And we mean the full range – including two furious reverse sweeps, one for six, the other for four. The reverse isn’t quintessential Rohit, but he showed that even at 36, he isn’t averse to adding new tricks and bolstering his repertoire. If anyone doubted his commitment to the cause of intrepidness and a certain gay abandon, those comprehensively exploded at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

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