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An alternative dance for the pair


“Some hitters are really unyielding. During the World Cup 2023 opener, former India coach Ravi Shastri said on Star Sports, “I speak from experience of sitting in a dressing room where a lot of players were hesitant to make a change because they were afraid of what they might lose.”

It was a biting statement from a man who had lately been privy to some of the major Indian cricket matches, and it came at a time when those circles weren’t known for their public criticism. While no one was specifically mentioned, it is clear that India’s batting strategy for white-ball cricket has been rethought.

Shastri didn’t really need to explain that specific shift, but no one personified it more than Rohit Sharma, the captain since he succeeded Virat Kohli.

Even a casual look at Sharma’s data tells a tale in and of itself, aside from the fact that he himself disclosed his strategy for the game. Sharma’s powerplay strike-rate averaged just over 70 (71.19, to be exact) between 2013 and 2021. At this point in the game, he assumed the role of a conventional opener by gathering runs before turning the game on at the conclusion. He continued to be an exceptional player throughout this time in the last overs. But other sides were forced to adopt the new ODI format as Eoin Morgan and associates depicted it. While Australia and South Africa followed suit with staff changes, India faced a different set of difficulties. They tried to change their approach, but they could not afford to miss out on the greats of the format.

That’s why Sharma himself led their attempt to do so at the top. After taking over as captain, Sharma represented his ideas on how India should bat in the modern era by hitting at a powerplay average of 110.96.

Sharma’s forceful takedowns at the top of the game have helped India relax in the pursuit in at least three of their World Cup matches. as though he was able to extend it to 100 against Afghanistan, Sharma’s subsequent appearances were arguably as more significant. In a chase of 256 against Bangladesh, Sharma dismissed 48 of the 87 runs India scored in 13 overs. Sharma’s 46 off 40 against New Zealand in their subsequent match at Dharamsala featured more layers as well, despite a superior assault. He established the tone early on by attacking the top bowlers in New Zealand, Mitchell Santner and Matt Henry, scoring 46 runs in an 11-over partnership. For the remainder of the chase, India was left chasing at little over 4 runs per over.

It made sure that India was never burdened by the scoreboard’s added pressure, even as the pitch became more difficult to bat on.

Virat Kohli top-scored in two of the aforementioned games, taking India across the finish line and virtually guaranteeing that they would cross without any problems. Kohli’s ODI style hasn’t changed, in contrast to Rohit’s.

Along with three fifties, Kohli has already scored a century in this World Cup. His S/R was 96.06 prior to 2021, however throughout the past year, it has slightly increased to 99.06. Although India has been chasing all along, it is reasonable to overlook about Kohli’s scoring rate after Rohit’s fast starts. India appears to be unaffected by that question.

If Rohit’s role is to counterbalance the load, Kohli has been taking it on when necessary.

India enjoyed the best of all worlds against New Zealand after Rohit gave them the early advantage, but Kohli had to lead them through a challenging middle-overs phase before he smashed some well-timed boundaries to ease a tight chase. In his battles with Afghanistan and Pakistan, Rohit’s endurance matched his bluster, leaving little room for others to intervene. And when he got going quickly, it let Kohli be Kohli and drive India home without more analysis.

However, Rohit’s high-stakes strategy carries the chance of failing. However, the match against Australia showed that India was lucky to still have Kohli and a middle order strengthened by KL Rahul to correct the course, even though he was out cheaply.

Famous bowling partnerships have existed amongst great teams in the past, but it is uncommon to see two ODI batsmen who have amassed more than 10,000 runs together. To be included in that group and to be dancing to diverse music without becoming out of style or sync is a testament to India’s talent.

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