Rohit Sharma misses an opportunity to go big | Crickit
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Rohit Sharma misses an opportunity to go big

By, Mumbai
Jul 21, 2023 11:35 AM IST

On most days, the India skipper isn’t too animated after getting dismissed but that wasn’t the case this time

One couldn’t help but feel a bit bewildered as Rohit Sharma completed his century against West Indies in the first Test at Dominica. The India captain didn’t celebrate much and simply raised his bat gently, perhaps because of how pedestrian the opponent’s attack was. But that wasn’t the perplexing bit, it was the graphic at the bottom which stated he had brought up his 10th Test ton.

West Indies' keeper Joshua Da Silva celebrates the dismissal of India's captain Rohit Sharma, bowled by Jomel Warrican for 80 runs, on day one of their second cricket Test match(AP)
West Indies' keeper Joshua Da Silva celebrates the dismissal of India's captain Rohit Sharma, bowled by Jomel Warrican for 80 runs, on day one of their second cricket Test match(AP)

For a batter of such immense class, who’s achieved so much in white-ball cricket over a 16-year-long international career, it’s hard to believe that his tally of Test hundreds just about runs into double digits.

“I was quite disappointed after getting out because I was batting well,” Sharma said later, having been dismissed the ball after he got to his century. “I had concentrated nicely for a long period of time and it was a good opportunity to get a big score. I regretted it then but I’m focussed now on what I can change going forward.”

In the second Test at Port of Spain, the 36-year-old got the opportunity to add to that total of 10 Test centuries. He batted magnificently once again to get to 80, but he was cleaned up by left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican after attempting a rather frustrating stroke.

On most days, Sharma isn’t too animated after getting dismissed but that wasn’t the case this time. He banged his glove on his thigh and let out a roar in frustration as he walked back. He knew he had missed a golden opportunity to get a big one. Sure, it was a good delivery that dipped and turned sharply. But he misread the length and simply poked at it. It was a nothing shot, a legitimate lapse in concentration.

What made his dismissal all the more disappointing was the stage at which it happened. After being put in to bat first, India dominated the opening session thanks to Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal’s opening partnership. While the senior pro took his time to get in, the young left-hander remained positive and kept scoring at nearly a run-a-ball.

Sharma showed patience and left the ball nicely to get to 17 off 41, before picking up pace and racing to a 74-ball half-century. Along with some crisp drives, there were a number of his famous pull shots on display as India got to 121/0 at lunch. But then came a mini fightback from the Windies as they picked up four wickets for just 61 runs in the second session.

Jaiswal was the first to go after attempting an extravagant drive off Jason Holder and getting caught. Shubman Gill then registered a second successive low score after edging one off Kemar Roach. Finally, Sharma was sent packing after he too went hard at the ball. From 139/0, India had lost three wickets for just 16 runs. From being in a position to dominate, they were forced to negotiate a tricky period till stumps.

There’s a strong chance that Sharma’s innings will prove to be a match-winning one, and there’s no denying he deserves credit for his 143-ball stay at the crease, but he will know better than anyone that he missed out on cashing in.

With all due respect, this West Indies bowling attack has precious little potency. For seasoned campaigners like Sharma, the objective must be nothing less than making daddy hundreds. Improving their average, as they say. Else, what is even the point of being on the tour? As India could well have clinched the series with a second-string batting lineup too.

Over the past few years, Sharma’s batting in Tests has perhaps been the most impressive aspect of his performance in international cricket. Unlike his earlier days in the longest format when he would tend to throw away his wicket, he has found a strong method on the back of technique and discipline. He may have missed out in his most recent outing but as he said, his hunger is intact and one can only hope he continues to add to his tally of Test centuries.

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