Cricket-Talismanic Rohit leads India’s blemish-free campaign by example

By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Virat Kohli remains the cynosure of all eyes wherever and whenever India plays but skipper Rohit Sharma has quietly grown into the team’s undisputed talisman leading their blemish-free campaign in the home World Cup.

No other captain in the 50-overs showpiece tournament has shaped the destiny of his team like Rohit has done to keep India atop the points table, and on the verge of semi-finals, after six wins in a row.

His captaincy has been spot on so far — be it recognising their strength in chasing targets rather than setting it, or sticking to a horses-for-courses mantra while picking the playing XI, or get the best out of his bowlers.

Equally importantly, he has often set the tone of their innings with the bat and is India’s leading run-scorer in the tournament having overtaken Kohli.

The 36-year-old, widely admired for his lazy elegance, fell for a duck against Australia in their tournament opener but has since been dominating the powerplay overs to put India in charge.

After pulling off five successful chases in a row, India were tested on Sunday when England captain Jos Buttler won the toss and asked them to bat first on a tricky surface in Lucknow.

For a change, India could not make the most of the powerplay, managing 35-2 in the first 10 overs, and were 40-3 in the 12th over with Kohli among the dismissed batters.

That they still managed a match-winning total of 229-9 was largely due to Rohit’s masterly 87 in the low-scoring contest where no other batsman managed a half-century.

Known for destroying rival attacks, Rohit proved he could rebuild an innings as well as he combined in a 91-run stand with KL Rahul to resuscitate India.

Rohit did not get his second hundred of the tournament but his measured knock fetched him player-of-the-match award.

“It’s just not about going and playing my shots,” the opener said after helping India clinch the bowler-dominated contest against holders England.

“When you have that much experience you’ve got to use that experience and do whatever is necessary for the team, and it was at that point in time necessary for me to take the game as deep as possible…”

It is a template that has served India well in the tournament and the one they would like to repeat in the remaining three group matches.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Pritha Sarkar)