India completed the rout of South Africa here in Ranchi on Tuesday when the debutant Shahbaz Nadeem flighted the ball and invited the tall, lanky pacer Ngidi to go over the top, only to perish in the process where he hit the ball straight to Nortje at the opposite end hitting him flush on the wrists, the ball lobbed up in the air gifting an easy catch to Nadeem who grabbed it and ended the proceedings for the South Africans’s here in the Freedom trophy. The catch ended the Proteas horrific run in the country where they have been thoroughly outplayed in every department by the strong Indian team. Virat Kohli led the Indian team completed its first clean sweep against the Proteas in Tests with a convincing innings and 202 runs victory. With the impressive victory, India have now won all of their last 5 Tests along with consolidating their position at the top of the World Test Championship points table with a maximum of 240 points. Faf du Plessis led South Africa, on the other hand, were left licking their wounds as they have now failed to open their WTC account after their first 3 Tests.
But the talking point of the series has been Rohit Sharma who was adjudged the Man of the Match and Man of the Series in the three-match series. The Hitman struck a purple patch against the Proteas soon after he was promoted to open the innings alongside Mayank Aggarwal. In the very first innings as an opener Rohit tore apart the insipid bowling of Du Plessis’s side, piling up mammoth 176 runs with 6 sixes in the first innings, one short of his career-best figure and in the second innings blasted a belligerent 127 laced with 7 humongous sixes, breaking the record of Wasim Akram’s most number of sixes (12) in a test match. Rohit Sharma Enroute his belligerent 212 in the third test match which included 28 fours and six sixes, surpassed former Australian legend Don Bradman‘s record of highest average in Test cricket on home soil. The right-handed batsman broke the 71-year-old record previously held by Bradman. The kangaroo batsman had an average of 98.22 on home soil in Test Cricket whereas Rohit’s average rose to 99.84 after the batsman smashed his first double hundred in the longest format of the game with a six on 199. Rohit is now the only Indian to have reached his 100 and 200 with a six in the same innings in Tests, a record Virender Sehwag will be mighty proud of. Interestingly he hit the six to reach his double hundred on Sehwag’s birthday, talk about emulating your idols.
The Mumbai born lad also broke a slew of other records in his new avatar of an opener. He became only the fifth Indian opener after Vinoo Mankad, Budhi Kunderan, Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag to score 500-plus runs in a single Test series. Rohit became the 4th batsman after Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Chris Gayle to join the elite club of players to have scored double hundreds in both ODI and Test formats of the game. He also broke the record for registering the most number of sixes in a bilateral Test series. The talismanic batsman went past Caribbean batsman Shimron Hetmyer who had registered 15 sixes in the series against Bangladesh in 2018-19.
“It’s been a great start, so I don’t want to let it go. That started long back in 2013, when I started opening for India in white ball cricket. I realised you need to have discipline at the start of the innings. Once you are in, you can play your game,” Rohit Sharma had said during the post-match presentation. One of the pillars of modern-white ball cricket for the Indian team, Rohit has always wandered on the fringes of the test team. Rohit had not been in the scheme of things for the Test team for quite some time. He never got the long rope that a player like KL Rahul has got over the years.
Rahul has been a colossal failure for India, he has struck form here and there but his contribution to the team has been pathetic, to say the least, and when he was shown the doors, the responsibility came upon the shoulders of Rohit Sharma who lapped onto it. Rohit might have failed in the SENA countries a few times (remember, he has played as a middle-order batsman up until now in outside the subcontinent), but that does not mean he is a bad test player and certainly his tally of 529 runs in the just-concluded series against a good SA side does mean he has what it takes to achieve success in the longest format of the game. He has been a proven match-winner in the limited formats of the game and the rich vein of form he has struck now is certainly making him a giant and legend of the game. A fully-unleashed HITMAN is a living nightmare for the opposition and thing of beauty for the fans.