How does it feel to be labelled a player with immense talent, but lousy temperament? How does it feel when fans believe a player is sure-shot India Test material only to see him leave every follower exasperated with serious indiscretion at the crease?
How does it feel when batsman after batsman breaks into the Indian Test side and cements his place even as the talented player in question waits in the wings, trying desperately to sort things before he can expect a call-up?
Rohit Gurunath Sharma, is the player best-placed to answer these painful questions. But, luckily for the 26-year-old Mumbaikar, these queries are set to be consigned to history come Wednesday when India meet West Indies in the first of the two-Test series at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
What Rohit’s phenomenal knock of 209, which came off 158 balls, in the series decider against Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday has done is ensure that the stylish right-hander will finally make his Test debut when India take on Darren Sammy & Co.
Given his string of current scores prior to this brilliant knock (79, 9*, 11, 141*, 42 and 8 in the current ODI series), Rohit always enjoyed an edge over his Mumbai teammate Ajinkya Rahane, who is also in the Indian squad and a contender for the No 5 spot. But Rohit’s Saturday Special has ensured Rahane will have to wait another day to play his second Test after his debut against Australia in Nagpur earlier this year.
Rohit’s knock against an Australian attack that was missing the services of paceman Mitchell Johnson, thanks to some warped thinking on the part of the Aussie selectors, was beautiful, yet brutal. And his heady mix of stroke-making ensured he rewrote a host of records by the time India had wrapped up their innings with a mammoth 383 in 50 overs.
His knock included 16 sixes and pipped the previous record held by Australia’s Shane Watson (15x6). Having raced to the 200-mark with a six off Clint McKay on the first ball of the 50th over, Rohit joined the elite list of double centurions in ODI cricket which includes Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
He hit another six before he was caught by substitute Moises Henriques for 209 at fine leg, but by then, he had done enough to have the hard-nosed opponents having no option but to applaud him.
Rohit, whose innings included 12 boundaries has reveled in the company of Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. The duo put on 112 off 19 overs and set the stage for a flourish towards the end of the innings. But even the most optimistic of fans would not have expected the blitzkrieg the Aussies were subjected to in the final five overs that yielded over 100 runs.
When Sandeep Patil’s selection committee met earlier this week to pick the squad for the Test series against the West Indies, there was one name which was a certainty, a man who is on the cusp of playing his 200th Test. It’s now Rohit’s time to be a certainty in skipper MS Dhoni’s little selection committee which will pick the final XI.