By: Keyur Seta
Rohit Sharma provides a pleasant shock by scoring as many as 264 in a one-day international v/s Sri Lanka at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. In this way, he easily beats Virendra Sehwag’s previous record of 218 v/s West Indies. We can also say that he has done the unthinkable because who would have thought about this?
Naturally, this will make Indian cricket fans proud. And being a fellow Mumbaikar like Rohit, I should be more proud, especially since this is the second time he has reached the magic figure of 200 in an ODI. The first being his innings of 209 v/s Australia last October.
However, as cynical as it may sound, I am not-so-delighted by Rohit’s feat as I don’t consider it a great innings, leave alone one of the greatest. These are my reasons for it:-
Pitch: The Kolkata pitch in the match was one of the flattest you will ever see. So scoring on an extremely batting friendly pitch is reason enough to diminish the importance of the innings.
Catches: One can ignore the pitch factor saying that a double hundred is a double hundred. However, you can’t ignore the fact that the Sri Lankan fielders dropped as many as three catches off Rohit.
Bowling & Fielding: Sri Lanka’s below average bowling and field performance also cannot be ignored.
To analyze a batting performance, only the end score isn’t enough. Various factors, including the aforementioned, determine the greatness of an innings. For example, Sachin Tendulkar’s 98 against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, in my opinion, is one of the greatest innings because of the supreme bowling attack he faced in the form of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar and, not to forget, the huge pressure of playing the arch rivals in an important world cup match.
Rohit’s 264 also forces me to correlate it with Bollywood’s biggest blockbuster ever, Dhoom 3 that scored close to 300 crore in India and around 500 crore worldwide. But despite such monumental numbers, the film will never feature in anybody’s list of all-time greatest films. In fact, we won’t even consider it. The same goes for Rohit’s innings.
Now let’s get more serious. These instances of more and more 350 and 400 plus scores by teams and 150-200 plus by batsmen also bring to light the grim scenario of one-day internationals in today’s times. The reason I am using the word grim is because the contest between batsmen and bowler is diminishing day by day due to some rank flat pitches and completely batsmen friendly conditions. In fact, looking at the recent ODI series in India, we can say the contest between the two expertises is already dead.
Apart from providing one-sided contests, it will also affect team India’s performance when they tour outside the Indian sub-continent. This is clearly visible from India’s poor and not-so-encouraging performances in ODIs in the last tours of New Zealand and England respectively.
Something needs to be done about making ODIs a balanced contest between batsmen and bowlers; else the day is not far when a youngster opting to be a bowler will be handed over some bravery award for his decision.