When Rohit Sharma told teammates he’s going to play the role of aggressor at the World Cup | Cricket-world-cup News


The idea of him ditching self-preservation for the high-risk, high-reward approach at the top of the order for the World Cup was proposed by the Indian captain Rohit Sharma himself during a team meeting after the Asia Cup earlier this year. It is learnt that Rohit wanted to put bowling attacks to the sword as far back as last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, but it didn’t come off. During the 50-over World Cup at home, on pitches more conducive to hitting on the up, Rohit felt it was a risk worth taking.

Rohit told his teammates and the coaching staff that as captain he would set the tone of the innings and this would allow others to play their natural game. The bold proposal of the skipper came with a rider: If the plan didn’t work out, he would be willing to play more conservatively.

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To his credit, head coach Rahul Dravid, the wall at No.3 during his Test cricket days, too bought into this idea after carefully weighing the pros and cons.

Fifth on the run-scorers list with 550, Rohit has an average of 55 and a headline-making strike rate of 124.15 — the fastest among the top 10 run-getters at this World Cup. Numbers only tell half the story of his impact on the morale of new-ball bowlers at this World Cup and his contribution with the bat to the team’s 10-match unbeaten run.

Festive offer

Speaking ahead of the New Zealand game, Rohit thanked coach Dravid for backing him and the players and not chopping and changing once every batsman was given clear roles.

“I don’t have a mantra. As a captain, if you have decided this is how you want to play then you must have clarity. You have to back the players to the hilt. We have backed certain players whom we have given certain roles. We’ll back players and stand with them. We have to give credit to Rahul Dravid for buying into that thought and not shuffle much when it doesn’t come off,” Rohit had said.

All-rounders Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur lower down the order also provided the safety net of a longer batting unit. However, despite Hardik being sidelined because of injury, Thakur being benched and fast bowler Mohammed Shami coming in, Rohit has not backed down when facing the new ball.

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While the bowlers have been on song, the batsmen have not spared bowling attacks.

The Indian batting has clicked whether it is batting first or chasing. Their 10-game unbeaten record has an even split — India won the first five games while chasing and the next five when batting first. It has helped that other batting stars in the line-up – Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and K L Rahul – have struck collective form when it has mattered most.

Rohit’s approach to the 50-over game like a T20 has removed the pressure on the other batsmen to start hitting from the word go. Kohli, India’s No.3, has had more time to build his innings and has been the fulcrum around the other big hitters, like Shreyas Iyer and K L Rahul, bat with a license to thrill. Kohli has scored three hundreds during the World Cup, breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most ODI centuries and also the record for the most runs in a World Cup.

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Iyer is seventh on the run-scorers list, has two hundreds and his strike rate of 113.11 is second only to Rohit’s among the top run-getters.

The perfect example of Rohit’ effectiveness is the semifinal against New Zealand. He took the attack to the experienced fast bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult. His 47 off just 29 balls set the tone for centuries by Kohli and Iyer. When Rohit was dismissed in the ninth over, the young Shubman Gill shifted up a gear.

In the opener against Australia, India were reduced to 2 for three before a rescue act by Kohli and Rahul. Against the five-time World Champions Australia in Sunday’s final, Rohit, despite his failure against the Aussies at the start of the tournament, is likely to come out all guns blazing.


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