November 12 2018
It is a comical case of Sharmaji’s beta finishing second best. For the sake of perspective, let’s start with a few stats…
In the One Day format, Rohit Sharma has a world record of three double centuries. He has seven scores in excess of 150, another world record. In each of the six years since he started opening the innings in 2013, he has the highest individual score by an Indian. His average of 59.64 in this period is the highest by any opener of any nationality. He has scored 19 centuries, which is four more than any other opener in the last six years. His unbelievable strike rate of 209.3 in the last 10 overs of an innings is the highest for any player in ODIs (minimum 30 balls faced) in the last half decade.
Now if you look at just the last two years, these stats have got even better. Since the start of 2017, he has scored 11 centuries and averages a staggering 70.62.
But for all these numbers, Rohit Sharma still has to settle for second place in the list of contemporary ODI greats. In any other era, in any other team, he would’ve been the number one batsman. But not in India, not when Virat Kohli is around. Because the Indian skipper scores at such an exceptionally consistent pace that it almost makes even Rohit’s mindboggling numbers seem ordinary.
Rohit has scored an incredible 4911 runs in the last five years, but in the same period Kohli has scored 5692. Of all the batsmen who have scored a minimum of 200 runs in that period, Rohit averages a whopping 62.96 but Kohli averages 72.05. Rohit has struck 19 centuries but Kohli has 23. How do you even compete with these stats?
Thankfully for him and for Indian cricket, Rohit is not competing against Kohli, he is competing with him. Together, they are the most formidable duo in world cricket at the moment. When one gets going, the other plays second fiddle. Their style of play is so adaptable that when one of them is on fire, the other voluntarily plays the supporting role. The fact that both can complement each other’s style and change roles effortlessly helps one to go on the offensive, while the other plays anchorman.
Their combined batting average of 84.05 is the best in ODI history. They have five double hundred partnerships in ODIs, more than any other pair in the world. In just 64 ODIs, they have 11 partnerships in excess of 150. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly who (temporarily) hold the record with 12 got there only after playing 176 innings together.
Thanks to Rohit and Kohli, India have the best win-loss ratio in ODIs for any country in the last five years, winning 71 and losing 36 matches.
So, instead of feeling bad for Rohit Sharma, we should actually be glad. Because the only thing that can make up for having the second best batsman in the world is having the best batsman in the world.
Let’s just be grateful Team India doesn’t have to choose between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.