MUMBAI: It’s often said about Rohit Sharma that he tends to be forgetful. He’ll check-out of a hotel or flight only to be reminded later he has left his iPad behind. He’ll walk out of home and figure out later he probably didn’t carry his wallet. Heck, he once said in an interview how he forgot his own wedding ring.
And then again, it’s often said of Rohit Sharma how he’ll never forget some things. He won’t forget he didn’t play the 2011 World Cup. He remembers all those missed opportunities in his career. He’ll never forget to help teammates who come to him from time to time, asking for help.
It’s the paradox of memory, where forgetting only works when there’s a good ability to remember. It is in the quest to get what he doesn’t have that he can afford to momentarily forget what he already does.
He already has a T20 World Cup win against his name. What he doesn’t have yet is the tag of being a senior statesman in the team who inspired a bunch to get there. Between the 2021 T20 World Cup – the following one in 2022 – and the 50-over World Cup in 2023, lies that chance.
Let’s begin with the present. The 2021 T20 World Cup is here and Team India, going through its own share of upheavals – like, for instance, a change in coach and a captain on the anvil – has its tasks cut out.
In that lies Rohit’s challenge too. He’s the senior team member, tasked with the responsibility to back his skipper Virat Kohli‘s World Cup aspirations. Soon after this tournament, he’ll be the captain himself, tasked with the responsibility to lead that very team’s aspirations. What he does today will be a mirror to what he must begin to expect of his team tomorrow.
At Mumbai Indians, he’s led by that very example and therefore demanded the best from his players at all times.
The five Indian Premier League (IPL) titles Rohit has won may be worth their weight in gold for the franchise he represents. But inside his heart, he knows that the day he walks away, they’ll all keep pointing out to what the ‘Hitman’ did wearing India colours.
That’s what counts. His franchise agrees too. India first.
It is the memory of a time when he tried so hard that he probably wants to build right now and look back at it when he’s done. It’s work in progress.
There are five matches in front of India starting with the big, high-pressure game against Pakistan on October 24. New Zealand, Afghanistan, Scotland and a qualifying team are lined up next. The world sees this as a walk in the park for a very talented Indian side to make it to the semifinals.
That’s when the challenge begins.
Rohit is undoubtedly a big-match player. The 2019 50-over World Cup, where he hit five centuries to record the maximum runs in the tournament; the IPL 2020 final, when he played the match-winner despite a niggle; the Test hundred at home against England that put India on the winning path; the recent Test hundred at The Oval where India took lead for the second time in the series – they’re all among the most recent instances of how he’s tried to live up to the expectations.
It’s never easy.
There’s a video of Rohit on You-Tube, in which he’s seen giving one of those funny interviews and talks about his forgetfulness. A fan has left a comment below the video: “We love it when you forget how to get out…”
Over the years, he’s developed the art of selective memory too. In one of his interactions with the media, a couple of years ago, he was asked if he remembers those poor phases of his cricketing journey. ” Aap 2013 se pehle ka sab bhool jao. 2013 ke baad ka baat karo… (You forget everything before 2013. Talk about everything after 2013…),” he said.
It was the year when former India captain MS Dhoni put him in the driver’s seat to open for India in white-ball cricket. It was a re-beginning of sorts.
It’s not like Rohit doesn’t remember things before 2013. In 2012, he averaged a mere 12.02 from 13 one-day innings and his international career had looked like it was falling apart.
In 2011, he had gone into a shell after the World Cup miss and took time to let go of that pain.
He remembers it all.