Since scoring his first-ever T20I fifty in the 2007 T20 World Cup against South Africa in Durban, Rohit Sharma has gone from strength to strength. He has gone on to become one of the greatest opening batsmen to have ever played the limited-overs game.
Over 15 years since he first made his debut, Rohit is just a couple of months away from leading the Indian national team in the T20 World Cup to be held in Australia.
In this article, we take a look at Rohit Sharma’s top three knocks in the T20 World Cup over the years.
#3 30 (16), India vs Pakistan, Final, Johannesburg, September 24, 2007
Winning the toss and choosing to bat first in the inaugural World T20 final, India got off to a shaky start as they lost Yusuf Pathan and Robin Uthappa in the first six overs of the innings.
The third-wicket partnership, although it stabilized the innings, was Gautam Gambhir‘s carry job as he scored 47 runs in 28 balls in the partnership while Yuvraj Singh scored just 14 in 19 deliveries.
The quick wickets of Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, and Gautam Gambhir left India stranded at a dismal 130/6 at the end of the 18th over.
Batting on 6 (7) at that time as a No. 6, Rohit Sharma launched an attack in the last two overs against Yasir Arafat and Sohair Tanvir. Two full tosses in the first two deliveries of the 19th over were smashed to the boundary by the 20-year-old, followed by a double and a single in the next two deliveries.
He hit the second delivery of the last over for a six and took singles and doubles for the rest of the over.
While two fours and one six in the last two overs of a T20 may not look so special today, this was the game-changing moment in 2007 for India. It lifted the spirits and gave the bowlers a defendable target.
Although Gambhir and Irfan Pathan are rightfully credited today for their match-winning performances, this cameo by Rohit Sharma was the difference between winning and losing.
#2 50* (40), South Africa vs India, Durban, September 20, 2007
In a must-win game for both teams to stay in the competition, India won the toss and chose to bat first against the host nation in Durban. However, this move seemed like backfiring as the batting side found themselves in a difficult spot. They were 33/3 at the end of 5.1 overs and 61/4 at the end of 10.3 overs.
At this point, Rohit Sharma decided to up the run rate in partnership with MS Dhoni as they revived the innings. The youngster was struggling at 5 off 15 deliveries before confidently hitting two consecutive boundaries off Johan van der Wath’s bowling in the 10th over.
Rohit continued playing confident drives and pulls on loose deliveries against van der Wath, Morne Morkel, and Makhaya Ntini, along with Dhoni on the other end doing the same.
He reached a well-deserved fifty with a six off a short ball from van der Wath on the last ball of the innings. The 20-year-old was given a standing ovation by the Indian crowd in Durban.
The partnership between MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma, worth a massive 84 runs in 55 deliveries, took India to a competitive total of 153/5 at the end of 20 overs.
It turned out to be more than enough as South Africa collapsed to 31/5 in their first five overs. They never recovered enough in the innings to pose a real threat to the Indian total.
Rohit Sharma was awarded the Player of the Match award for his clutch knock of 50 in 40 deliveries.
#1 79 (46), Australia vs India, Bridgetown, May 7, 2010
Winning the toss and choosing to field first, the Indian bowling attack conceded a massive score of 184/5 in the first innings. This, too, was after stopping the Australian batsmen from wreaking further havoc, conceding only 21 runs in the last four overs of the game.
Chasing a tough total, the Indian batsmen succumbed to the intense pressure set by the Australian bowlers as Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait proved too hot to handle.
Almost all Indian batsmen departed without putting up a fight. The only one who shone was Rohit Sharma. Despite losing wickets around him at regular intervals, the young Mumbaikar kept playing his shots, taking the attack to the Australians, even when the match looked virtually over.
Rohit also put up a 47-run partnership in 24 deliveries with Harbhajan Singh and a 36-run partnership in 17 deliveries with Zaheer Khan, scoring 30 (13) and 27 (11) in these partnerships, respectively, by himself.
To put this innings into context, none of the other batsmen crossed double digits, except Harbhajan who scored 13. Rohit had the guts to attack and give it his best even when the scoreboard read 50/7.
It was truly a fighting knock by a 22-year-old in the face of the aggressive Australians, in what was an otherwise forgettable World Cup for the Indians.