Rohit Sharma’s twin hundreds in the Vizag Test completely overshadowed the performances of his teammates Mayanak Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin and even Mohammed Shami as India’s new opener in the longest format made his return in whites with a bang.
Rohit was the main protagonist in India’s 203-run victory over South Africa as he scored 176 and 127 in both innings on a slow and low track at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium.
During the course of both his knocks, Rohit broke several records along the way but never lost focus of the bigger job at hand – to help India win the match and take a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series.
India rode on Rohit’s hundreds and brilliant batting performances from Agarwal (215 in the 1st innings) and Cheteshwar Pujara (81 in the 2nd innings) to outplay the Proteas with Ashwin (7 for 145 in the 1st innings), Mohammed Shami (5 for 35 in the 2nd innings) and Ravindra Jadeja (4 for 87 in the 2nd innings) shining with the ball.
For the longest of time, Rohit was labelled as only a white-ball specialist due to his inconsistent run in the longest format. All five of his hundreds have come on home soil with Rohit averaging 97.45 in Tests at home.
After dominating the limited-overs format as opener, Rohit had to prove his mettle in the traditional format where he had to curb his attacking instincts for a more cautious approach.
Rohit did that in both innings by weathering the storm early on and respecting the Proteas bowlers before taking the attack to the opposition when he got settled at the crease and got more comfortable with the pitch conditions.
Even before this match, critics were sceptical on whether Rohit has what it takes to succeed as an opener in Tests but the Mumbai batsman shut everybody up with his record-breaking performance.
So how did Rohit deal with all the negativity surrounding him and his batting in Test cricket? The limited-overs vice-captain revealed that he has a secret weapon when it comes to dealing with criticism and negativity.
“I have protected myself with a shield around me (to avoid negativity) for a long time now. All those things… what happens outside doesn’t come inside that shield. What people say and what people think of me doesn’t really bother me. Eventually, I have to play my game and enjoy my game.
“What happens outside… I never thought about those things. When I was young, I never thought about what people will talk about me. Now that people are talking, I have protected myself with shield and that shield is strong. Nothing comes past that,” Rohit said at the post-match press conference.
Rohit became the first batsman in history to score two hundreds while opening the innings for the first time in Test cricket. He also hit the most number of sixes hit by any batsman in a single Test with 13, going past Wasim Akram’s mark of 12.
He also beat Rahul Dravid’s record with 7 successive fifty-plus scores for India in Tests at home with his second hundred in the Vizag Test.
Rohit though, is least bothered about the records and just wants to have some fun while living his dream of playing cricket for India.
“It was a dream for me to play cricket, I am living that dream. I have said this many times, I’m not here for records. I just want to enjoy my game, that’s all I can say.
“I know it might be boring. You can think ‘this guy keeps talking about the same thing again and again’. But that’s what it is. Honestly, I can’t say it’s the most special… your first Test is always special. Yeah, so my first Test is still very special,” Rohit said.