For years after he made a mark in the T20 World Cup against South Africa in 2007, people would talk about how talented Rohit Sharma was. But that's all they would say he was. He was gifted. He has lazy elegance. You would always hear people praise his talent like he was the best batsman in all the land and yet they didn't want him in the team.
Well, you couldn't really blame anyone but Sharma for the first 6 years of his career. For a man of his talents, the results were simply abysmal. It was the same story over and over again. Sharma would walk in, look a class apart from his peers as long as he was at the crease, the problem being he was rarely at the crease long enough to make a difference.
And then came 2013's Champions Trophy. The crowd at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff was baying for blood, the South African team was ripe for sacrifice and they sent him out with Shikhar Dhawan.
Dhawan & Rohit took on Morkel and co on a bouncy track head-on. While Dhawan went on to score a century, Rohit settled with 65 of his own. India won the game courtesy of the duo. This might not have seemed of import at the time, but this would go on to be the most important 65 runs of Rohit Sharma's whole life.
Sharma scored 177 runs in 5 games at an average of 35 in this rain-affected tournament. But more importantly, the way Sharma batted it seemed like something had finally clicked and India had finally found their opening pair.
Since 2013, Rohit has scored more than 7,000 runs at an average of nearly 60 in ODIs. He's won countless games, he's got 5 centuries in a World Cup, he's got 3 double centuries in ODIs and now, he's India's Test opener with a century in England.
But if you are a true fan of Rohit Sharma, you don't really care about the stats. You can almost say that we were so used to disappointment for so many years we stopped thinking about his numbers and it won't be entirely false.
Because, honestly, numbers are a Virat Kohli thing. He's a machine. He is going to tick all the boxes, break all the records and rightfully so. Kohli's batting is about going out there and doing it over and over again without fail.
But Rohit's batting is more like watching time slow down for your pleasure. There's beauty in it. It's simple, it's elegant and often surprisingly arrogant. His timing and placement are exquisite but those don't come close to how perfect his shot selection is.
He drives fast bowlers for six over covers with a new ball. When he flicks, he looks like he just asked the ball nicely to go to the boundary. And when he pulls, you can tell that shot was invented for him.
Make no mistake, at no point in this article, will you find me dissing Kohli. He is arguably the greatest of all time. Talent, hard work, skills and consistency, that man has everything to offer to the sport. Every shot is perfect when it's Kohli playing it. But there's just something about Rohit Sharma's batting, a bit of hypnosis, perhaps for he can make millions sway their heads with each swing of the bat.
Watching Rohit Sharma is like staring into the heart of the force. When was the last time a batsman got out on 150 and you were sad because you thought he was 50 runs short of what he should have scored?
Runs : 159 (138)— Shubham. (@TheOval127) December 18, 2020
6️⃣s: 5💥#OnThisDay a year ago ROHIT SHARMA scored his 8th(most) 150+ Runs in an innings...Easily missed another 200😔
Fastest 26 ODI 100s as an Opener
134 - Rohit
151 - Amla
169 - Sachin#RohitSharma #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/7WSSFIjPE8
Never. Never in the history of this sport, has any batsman ever inspired such emotions amongst the crowd. The legendary David Gower once said that Rohit Sharma had mastered the 5 elements of batting - determination, ability, technique, calmness and concentration. Who are we to argue?
Rohit Sharma, once he gets eye in, simply does what he wants. He dictates the bowler, the field, the shots... you name it. He finds gaps at ease, scores boundaries without taking risks, hits ridiculous sixes and unlike his peers, he finds it really easy to shift gears and does it at well.
Every Rohit Sharma innings is like watching poetry in motion. There's just so much purity to the way he bats. And when it's his day and more often than not, it is his day, he makes it all about him.
If you are a bowling captain, 'Rohit Sharma off to a flyer' is a problem. Rohit Sharma settling in, scoring a 50 of 70 balls, that's a much bigger problem. He keeps on scoring runs with impunity, no matter the size of the field or the nature of the pitch or the name on the bowlers' backs, Rohit Sharma scores runs.
Sharma dons a halo of inevitability. He's the big bad in every bowler's story. He's not Virat Kohli, he's not a machine. He's never getting anywhere close to Virat Kohli's numbers. Nobody is, for a while. But there will always be machines. Gods, on the other hand, are not that common.