Interview of Cricket Fans (ICF) – 33 — Rohit Sharma

Thank you so much for your participation in this interview, tell us your early memories of watching cricket growing up.

Thank you for having me. I first started watching Cricket as a 12-year-old back in 2013, it all started with IPL for me. But yes even before that, I clearly remember watching the 2011 World Cup Final – there was a projector set up in my area, food and soft drinks were there, crackers were stocked up and people were screaming as if we were all in a stadium. The 10-year-old me realised that day that the country worships the sport, and especially Sachin Tendulkar.

As a Mumbaikar, although I wasn’t a cricket fan, I would watch a few glimpses from MI matches before 2013-14. During these years I actually started following the game. It was an MI match where Rohit had played an amazing knock, and that drew me to it. My love for cricket began with Rohit Sharma and Mumbai Indians. I started following all MI matches and eventually, even International cricket. Back in school, they knew me as the only cricket fan-girl who would argue with the boys on match results and sneak into our IT lab during breaks to check match scorecards on the internet, it was a lot of fun!

Have you been fortunate enough to watch an international match live in a stadium? If yes, which match was going on at what venue?

Yes! My first international match was India vs New Zealand ODI in October 2017 at Wankhede Stadium. Unfortunately, India lost the game, but it was an amazing experience. My father, being as big a cricket fan like me, thought it would be great to watch the historic Pink Ball test live. So my family and I flew to Kolkata last November for the game. It was my first time watching a match at any stadium other than Wankhede. Eden Gardens did not disappoint at all, the atmosphere was phenomenal. But nothing beats the Wankhede vibe for me.

When was the first time you watched Rohit Sharma bat? And when was the first time you actually started following him and his career?

The first time I watched him bat was in 2013 for Mumbai Indians. I don’t clearly remember which match it was but he was the Man of The Match and the way he was hitting, I was awestruck. I didn’t understand the technicalities of the game back then but somehow, was very drawn to following cricket, and him more. From then on, I started following his career and would initially watch matches only for him.

Rohit Sharma’s batting career started off really well as he was a part of the 2007 World T20 squad and performed well in South Africa, then he went to Australia in 2008 and performed well there too, but then he just couldn’t make it to the squad for the 2011 World Cup, must have been tough for him.

Definitely! Like I have mentioned I didn’t follow cricket back then but I have read about how tough it was for him. Any cricketer doesn’t just dream to represent the country, but also hopes be a part of the World Cup teams and perform. I can imagine it must’ve been an extremely tough phase. But he came back stronger than ever in the coming years and last year we all saw how brilliant he was.

And his batting woes didn’t end there, it was that horrible 2012 series in Sri Lanka too where he just couldn’t score more than single digits.

Have read about that phase too. I remember that’s when the terrible trolling started against him and he was called all sorts of names. Must’ve been extremely difficult for him as a player. But I am so glad he didn’t give up on himself and neither did captain Dhoni stop trusting him. He was given chances and eventually, things did get better for him.

And then came the masterstroke of MS Dhoni where he promoted Rohit Sharma to the opening spot, and rest is history as they say.

Absolutely! As a Rohit Sharma fan, I am eternally grateful to Dhoni for what he did. Only a man like MSD could’ve realized the opener potential in Rohit. It worked so well for him and the team. It was only onwards and upwards for Rohit post that. He has also built so many great partnerships with Dhawan since then.

Rohit Sharma and double centuries are a match made in heaven. Share us your memories of each of the 200 that he scored in ODI’s.

When Rohit scored his first one, a 209 against Australia, I remember watching the match in bits and pieces because my grandpa was watching it on the TV. I didn’t realize how big a deal it was for someone to score a double hundred back then, but I remember all the newspaper front pages filled with Rohit the next morning.

I clearly remember Rohit playing on 72* on 13th November 2014, when I got back from school. He went on to score a mammoth 264 runs that day. I think I was in 8th grade back then. I was so elated, I knew a century was on its way. But when he reached 150, I knew this man is unstoppable. I was dancing and screaming like a maniac. I didn’t get off the couch or even changed my Uniform until the end of the game that day! And the next day in school, my classmates were congratulating me as if I had made a double century.

The 3rd ODI 200 honestly wasn’t a surprise. After his first two double hundreds, people automatically expected a 200 from him the moment he crosses the 100 run mark. This one was iconic because it was his anniversary too, and when he dedicated it to Ritika, it was very heart-warming to watch.

5 centuries in 9 matches for India in the World Cup, that is a huge statement, isn’t it?

Truly. I think most people expected a good performance from him in the World Cup 2019 but no one could’ve imagined him hitting 5 centuries! From being dropped from the team in 2011 to being India’s star performer in the world cup 8 years later, his growth as a player has been fantastic. The only disappointment for us as fans and of course for him as a player was India not being able to lift the trophy. Hoping for the best in 2023.

There is only one format where he has failed to establish himself because of various reasons, what according to you is the reason why he hasn’t quite made a mark in Tests yet.

A person who can score a 177* on his test debut, I don’t think lacks the ability to play Test cricket. He has got injuries at the wrong time (eg. tour of England, 2014) and in my opinion, has at certain occasions been dropped without being given enough chances. We all saw how his limited over cricket took a turn when he was shown faith in and promoted up the order. I think he definitely has the capability to do well in Test cricket as well.

And now Rohit Sharma has been awarded Khel Ratna for his excellency in 2019 World Cup for India, your message to him.

I was more than elated when I heard the news. When your idol and someone you have admired all your life receives such a huge honour, you kind of feel a sense of pride too. He absolutely deserved it and I am sure, there is so much more to come for him. I wish him the best for everything ahead and will continue to support him no matter what.

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