New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) India opener Rohit Sharma has been in imperious form in the ongoing World Cup, having scored 319 runs in the three matches that the Men in Blue have played so far.
His runs at the top of the order made sure that a solid foundation was laid for the big hitters to launch into the attack towards the latter stages of the games. In all the three completed matches, Rohit has had to deal with a lot of short-pitched bowling from the opposition pacers in challenging conditions. But the India vice-captain rose to the occasion and brought out the square-batted shots to tackle the short-pitch balls bowled at him -- both outside the off stump and at the body. In fact, his most productive scoring shot in this tournament has been the cut.
In the tournament opener against South Africa, Rohit played the waiting game (122* off 140 balls) contrary to his usual style and scored his slowest ODI hundred. The end result was India chasing down the target of 228 with six wickets in the bag.
The Proteas pacers, especially Kagiso Rabada, had peppered him with a lot of short stuff on a difficult batting track at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. However, the 'Hit-man' made sure he rose to the challenge and scored off the short-pitched deliveries.
Out of the 122 runs Rohit scored in that match, 30 runs (24.59 %) came in the area between point and third man. And the most productive shot for him was the cut shot through which he amassed 22 runs, which included 4 fours.
Even against Australia, the right-handed Indian opener was attacked with a lot of short-pitched deliveries by Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. In that match, he couldn't score a century, but his 57-run knock along with Shikhar Dhawan's hundred was enough to help India set the Aussies a target of 353. In the end, the defending champions were just not upto the mark to chase the total down.
Against arch-rivals Pakistan, the opener once again smashed a blistering ton (140 off 113 balls) and helped India post 336/5. Out of the 140 runs, the 32-year-old collected 28 runs (20 %) in the backward point region. The cut shot in this inning yielded him 30 runs, which included 4 fours and a six which reminded everyone of the famous upper cut played by Sachin Tendulkar in the 2003 World Cup match off the bowling of Shoaib Akhtar.
With the pacers sticking to the short-pitched deliveries on the slow English tracks in the ongoing World Cup, it can be predicted without a doubt that Rohit will be peppered with these deliveries throughout the tournament. But to the batsman's advantage, the cut has been the secret of his success in this edition of the showpiece event.
(Aakash Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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