Rohit, though, has had a definite hand in the recent successes of his opening partner(s).
At one point, Dinesh Lad, a Mumbai cricket tragic who has also coached Rohit, expressed his surprise over Rohit’s high-risk white-ball approach.
“Yes, he is playing a high-risk game for quite some time now, which he should not,” Lad told PTI. “I have no idea why he is doing that. I think he is making a mistake in playing an overly aggressive game.”
Okay, so why is even Rohit doing this in ODI cricket? Because the ODI landscape has changed. Because you can’t afford to sit back and preserve wickets in the powerplay on flat pitches. Because you need to rack up dew-proof totals while batting first, especially in India, where the ODI World Cup will be held later this year.
“You look at a lot of kids who look different at 19 but not all of them go onto actually achieve their potential. What Rohit has done over the last 15 years I think now has actually changed his potential and he’s been a great servant for Indian cricket and has done really well”
Now, in the lead up to the 2023 ODI World Cup, Rohit is bringing the high-intent approach to a different format.
Since the end of the 2019 ODI World Cup, Rohit has had a powerplay strike rate of 92.55. That puts him in sixth place among openers who have batted in at least 15 innings in that period, but while Jonny Bairstow (106.35) is clearly ahead of the pack, Quinton de Kock (95.93), Jason Roy (95.89), Gill (94.88) and Finn Allen (93.19) aren’t that far ahead of Rohit.
The recent numbers starkly contrast with those from the start of 2013 – when Rohit became a regular ODI opener – and the end of the 2019 World Cup. His powerplay strike rate was just 70.47 then.
“He has been a phenomenal cricketer and I think he obviously started off as this really precocious talent and I remember seeing him for the first time when he was 17 or 18 – [he] just came out of Under-19s – and you could see that you know you’re looking at something slightly different here,” Dravid said. “And he has gone on to prove that. You look at a lot of kids who look different at 19 but not all of them go onto actually achieve their potential. What Rohit has done over the last 15 years I think now has actually changed his potential and he’s been a great servant for Indian cricket and has done really well.
“Maybe like you said the turning point was when ten years ago he got the opportunity to finally open and really his hallmark has obviously been his performances in ICC tournaments, like we said in 2019, but also his ability to score big runs when he gets going. Someone who has got three double-hundreds in this format is an absolutely phenomenal achievement.
“So, yeah he has been pretty successful and yeah he’s someone who has got that game right – an all-round game and you can’t really think of a kind of bowling you can bowl to him. If you bowl fast and short, he will take you down and he will take down spinners. He plays swing well. So, he’s got a really good, complete game. So, yeah he has been a fantastic player for India and he has been batting well for us even in the last few games; he has been terrific to watch – the way he has been playing. So, it’s great to have him play the way he is.”
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo