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World Cup 2023, IND v NZ: Enforcer Rohit Sharma faces test of conviction in semi-finals vs New Zealand


World Cup 2023, IND v NZ: Enforcer Rohit Sharma faces test of conviction in semi-finals vs New Zealand


Earlier in the year, Rohit Sharma spoke about his lack of hundreds in ODI cricket, highlighting his improved strike rate. Rohit said he was not worried about milestones but wanted to give the team a solid start at the top, arguing that superior strike rate and daddy hundreds always can’t go hand-in-hand. For a man who had scored 3 ODI double-hundreds in a span of 5 years, the lean patch between 2020 and 2022 was inexplicable. After scoring as many as 5 hundreds in the World Cup 4 years ago, Rohit went on to get past the three-figure mark only once in the 3 years that followed in his favourite format.

World Cup 2023: Full Coverage

Something changed after the T20 World Cup in 2021. Rohit Sharma went after a New Zealand bowling attack in the very first T20I aftter the World Cup debacle. He started playing the aggressor at the top.

And Rohit Sharma’s change in approach was evident when he took over as India’s ODI captain. Since the start of 2022, Rohit has struck at over 110 in ODis, nearly 20 percent more than his career strike rate in the 50-over format of the game.

Rohit scored only 218 runs in 8 ODIs in 2022 but he struck them at 114.22. He has taken it a notch higher in the World Cup. Rohit is the only batter with more than 400 runs in the tournament and a strike rate of more than 120 in the tournament.

From being asked to open in 2013 to becoming one of the finest ODI openers of all-time, Rohit has come a long way. And in his maiden ODI World Cup as captain, Rohit has led from the front with a ruthless approach, taking it a notch higher. He has looked as effortless as before but the clarity of thought in attacking the opposition early on has stood out. With the middle-order stepping up, Rohit has given himself the liscence to go hammer and tongs in the first 10 overs.

Head coach Rahul Dravid rightly pointed it out, saying that Rohit’s impact at the top of the order has made India’s run-scoring against high-quality oppositions in the World Cup look easier than it was.

“In the end, it actually looked easy, but on reflection, as a coaching staff when we went back and looked at it, we realised the importance of his innings in games like that. It has certainly made it easier for guys who have followed,” Dravid said last week.

“He has been fantastic with his batting, the leadership that he has shown in taking on the game and in leading from the front. We have talked about playing the game in a particular way, you can’t do that unless your leader really buys in and actually shows by example.”

At 36, Rohit could have easily asked his younger opening partner to do the bulk of the scoring and waited to get the job done from the other end once the ball got softer and the pitch eased out. However, Rohit did not take that route and instead led from the front. On a pitch like the one in Lucknow, Rohit played in a different gear but he was always prepared to take down the opposition’s strike bowler.


  1. 27 for 3 vs Australia, chasing 200 in Chennai (Rohit – 0)
  2. 94 for 0 vs Afghanistan, chasing 274 in Delhi (Rohit – 76 off 43)
  3. 79 for 2 vs Paksitan, chasing 192 in Ahmedabad (Rohit – 45 off 30)
  4. 63 for 0 vs Bangladesh, chasing 257 in Pune (Rohit 37 off 33)
  5. 63 for 0 vs New Zealand, chasing 274 in Dharamsala (Rohit 39 off 35)
  6. 35 for 2 vs England, setting 229 in Lucknow (Rohit 24 off 30)
  7. 60 for 1 vs Sri Lanka, setting 357 in Mumbai (Rohit 4 off 2)
  8. 91 for 1 vs South Africa, setting 326 in Kolkata (Rohit 40 off 24)
  9. 91 for 0 vs Netherlands, setting 410 in Bengaluru (Rohit 42 off 34)

Experience teaches a lot as well. In the 2017 Champions Trophy, in the 2019 World Cup and in that fateful match against Pakistan in Dubai, India’s top-order was rolled over easily. However, Rohit seems to have worked on ways to ensure that the team was prepared for all situations. At the start of the year, he said India should be prepared for 10-for-3-like situations. And if recent evidence is anything to go by, India is prepared for such a scenario.

However, with Rohit’s aggressive approach at the top, he has put opposition bowlers on the backfoot from the word go. Attack is certainly the best form of defense against menacing bowling attacks, Rohit has proved.

Come Wednesday, Rohit will face a big test. india’s record in the knockout games, barring the Asia Cup final, hasn’t been inspiring. Will Rohit continue with the fearless approach at the top? Will he step down the track and hit the likes of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee? Will he not try to keep a sweep against Mitchell Santner down the ground?

Well, knowing Rohit and how this Indian team has played, don’t expect anything different from the skipper at his home ground in Mumbai.

Published By:

Akshay Ramesh

Published On:

Nov 14, 2023


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