Is Rohit Sharma the best Indian ODI batsman ever?

By: | Published: October 24, 2018 10:31 AM

In a ‘Dravid-esque’ fate, Rohit’s contribution to India’s limited overs’ side has often been overshadowed by Virat Kohli’s heroics, Shikhar Dhawan’s flamboyancy or Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s last moment brilliance.

Rohit Sharma, india vs west indies, india vs west indies 2nd odi, virat kohli, Rohit Sharma vs virat kohli, ind vs wi, india west indies odi series, indian cricket team, ms dhoniRohit Sharma registered his 6th 150 plus score in the 1st ODI against West In

While most cricket fans were in awe of Virat Kohli on Sunday who scored his 36thODI century – 30th in winning cause – against a substandard West Indies bowling attack in Guwahati, Rohit Sharma entered the record books by registering 6th score of 150 or more in ODIs – most by any batsman in this format. The Indian vice-captain remained not out on 152 in a flawless inning that included fifteen fours and 8 sixes.

In a ‘Dravid-esque’ fate, Rohit’s contribution to India’s limited overs’ side has often been overshadowed by Virat Kohli’s heroics, Shikhar Dhawan’s flamboyancy or Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s last moment brilliance. Not a gifted talent like Kohli or Sachin, Rohit makes batting look ridiculously easy on his day, as he did against Windies on Sunday. One of the cleanest hitters of the ball, he is already the third in the list of Indian batsmen to hit most sixes in ODIs after MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar.

Impressive record

Since being promoted to open the batting in 2013 Champions Trophy in England, Rohit Sharma has been one of the most prolific run-scorers for India in ODIs. He has scored 7217 runs from 189 matches at a highly impressive batting average of 47.16. Rohit has twenty hundred plus scores to his name – second highest among current Indian players after Virat Kohli.

In 2017, he scored 1293 runs at a stunning average of 71.83 from just 21 ODIs. Since the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, Rohit has scored hundreds in each of the last nine ODI series.

With the century against West Indies, he also became the 10thplayer in the world to score a century against all the full member teams.

Ability to bat big

Over the years, India has had many great ODI batsmen. Undoubtedly, Sachin Tendulkar remains to be on top of the list for his longevity at the field. The former Mumbai batsman was a complete package and his career remains to be a case study in itself. But, there were others who auditioned for the second best spot – Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni and even, Virat Kohli.

While most of these players are legends, what makes Rohit stand out from the lot is his ability to bat big. He is the only batsman in cricket history to score three double centuries in ODIs – 264, 209 and 208* – a proof that Rohit doesn’t like to throw his wicket away once he is in. In fact, he also holds the record for most 150 plus scores in ODIs having achieved the feat six times – one more than Sachin and David Warner.

The Virat Kohli situation

What if Rahul Dravid played in an era that didn’t feature Sachin Tendulkar? The former Karnataka batsman would have undoubtedly been the greatest batsman to represent India. The situation is almost the same with Rohit, courtesy – Kohli.

The Indian skipper with his inhuman stats makes any other batsman look mediocre. Kohli scored his 60thinternational century on Sunday, 36thin ODIs, 31stas captain, 29that number three positions, 22ndwhile chasing in ODIs and 8thin all formats in 2018.

It makes difficult for Rohit to steal the spotlight at times. Ironically, he is Kohli’s deputy, ranks 2nd in ICC’s list of batsmen behind the Indian skipper and even on Sunday, failed to get the Man of the Match award in favour of Kohl who had scored 140.

Rohit Sharma has scored 2660 runs from 50 matches at home at a staggering average of 63.33 at home which is better than Kohli’s average of 59.25 from 80 games in India. However, things change when you compare their away record. Despite being technical sound, Rohit Sharma has failed to replicate his success on overseas tours. He averages 41.05 in 139 matches away from home with the highest score of 171*. On the other hand, Kohli’s numbers remain the same despite a change in conditions. He averages 58.32 from 132 matches away from home with the highest score of 183. Kohli’s 21 centuries out of 36 have, in fact, come outside India.

While Virat averages over 50 against eight of the 11 Test playing nations in ODIs – Australia, Ireland, Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe, Rohit holds this record against only 4 oppositions – Australia, Bangladesh, Ireland and West Indies.

It sometimes feels unfair to other batsmen that Kohli has aggregated almost 10,000 runs in just 212 ODIs at an unbelievable batting average of 58.69. He is already being hailed as one of the best batsmen to play cricket and, rightly so. The way Kohli is playing at this moment, he is certain to go past Sachin Tendulkar in almost all the formats and leave behind a legacy hard to breach.

Final Verdict

What makes you a great batsman? Is it the runs you score or the centuries you amass? While both of these are important factors, there are so many other aspects of the game that have to be kept in mind – where were these runs scored, in what situation did these runs come, in what cause were they aggregated and against which bowling attack, among others.

Yuvraj Singh isn’t among the top five run-scorers for India in ODIs but he is certainly one of the best to represent the country. Yuvi is one of the rare batsmen in cricketing history who started as a number seven but established himself in the top-order. Moreover, he peaked at the right time in his career, often contributing at multi-nation tournaments.

Similarly, MS Dhoni has scored over 10,000 runs while batting at number 6 or 7 for the most part of his career, often hanging in with the tail and helping the team win matches from near-impossible situations. The former Indian skipper averages 51.78 at number 5, 46.79 at number 6 and 46.84 at number 7 – stats every top order batsman dreams for. Just like Kohli, Dhoni too managed to perform away from home, averaging 47.64 in 208 games against an average of 55.47 at home.

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