Rohit Sharma in Mumbai Indians

Is Rohit Sharma the IPL batsman any good?

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Rohit Sharma, the captain, has been eminent in Mumbai Indian’s success over the years. Under his hegemony, MI have managed to win the prestigious title on five different occasions.

Though Rohit Sharma has been stellar as a captain, the same can not be said for his batting performance. In the past three seasons, the 33-year-old has been mediocre with the willow. The heroics of other batsmen and MI’s success have often shielded Rohit from criticism.

His numbers are so bad that it is arduous to believe whether he is the same batsman who has been quite good for his national team in the past few years or so. 

In this article, we look at the poor numbers of Rohit Sharma with the bat and the expectations for the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League:

Rohit Sharma: Below-par returns since 2017

Rohit Sharma is one of the finest batsmen in white-ball cricket at the moment. Once he gets set, hardly anyone manages to match his class and stroke-play. But, he hasn’t been up to the mark in the IPL, as his numbers have taken a gigantic hit.

 

In the past four seasons, Rohit’s returns are among the worst for MI batsmen. Among 11 Mumbai batsmen to have scored at least 200 runs since 2017, his batting average and strike rate are bettered by eight and nine MI batsmen respectively.

Since Rohit finds himself at the bottom of the table among his teammates, his position in the overall league goes further down!

The Nagpur-born has scored 20 or fewer runs in 33 different innings in the last four years – third-most among all the batsmen. This shows that his failure rate is 57.89%, which is egregious, to say the least.

Awful among openers in IPL

Rohit Sharma is unarguably the finest opener in the limited-overs format in world cricket at the moment. His innings-building approach is something the other openers want to replicate. But, his IPL numbers, in the recent past, paint a completely contrasting picture. Rohit opened in just two innings in 2017-18, so, for a fair analysis, we will consider numbers since 2019 only.

  

Despite his preferred opening position, the MI skipper has yielded poor returns. While the other openers accumulate runs at a strike rate of above 136, Rohit’s strike rate isn’t even 130! His batting average is also far from impressive, and more so for a top international batsman. Rohit neither bats deep nor does he strike big.

In the powerplay as well, Rohit is quite inconsistent as well as a slow starter. For a fair analysis, we compare his performance with other openers as they have to face the new ball as well.

Of all the 20 openers to have played at least 100 balls in the powerplay since 2019, only Prithvi Shaw and Shane Watson have recorded a lower average than Rohit. While Shaw is quite young as of now and Watson was at the twilight of his career, Rohit has no excuse to produce such returns. His strike rate of 124.14 is also below the average strike rate (130.23).

 

Rohit’s poor performance in the powerplay is compensated by Quinton de Kock’s terrific show. The southpaw — who is an excellent player of pace-bowling — averages about 45 with a strike rate of 137.12 in the powerplay since 2019.

Read Game Plan 1 for MI v RCB here.

Rohit Sharma v spin in IPL

The gameplay against spin is one of the main reasons behind Rohit’s abysmal numbers in the past few seasons of the Indian Premier League. His record, particularly against the left-arm orthodox bowlers, is below average. Rohit has failed to rotate strike or hit frequent boundaries and protect his wicket against the away turners in the recent past.

 

As shown in the above chart, Rohit Sharma has the second-worst average (16.13) and strike rate (103.2) in the last three seasons. He hits a boundary after every nine balls, which is mediocre and substandard for a batsman like Rohit. He loses his wicket on every 17th ball of the mentioned bowlers since 2018.

 

While batting against the slow left-arm orthodox, Rohit generally tries to make room and hit the ball through the cover region. He keeps his body away from the ball, due to which he fails to get the timing and the power required. Rohit struggles to score quickly against the leg-spin and loses his wicket off the googlies more often.

Expectations for the upcoming season from Rohit Sharma

Rohit’s two of the worst seasons, in the terms of runs scored, has been in the past three seasons only. The right-handed batsman made 286 and 332 in the year 2018 and 2020 respectively in the IPL. He made only five scores of 50 or more runs in these two seasons.

However, he has produced some quality batting performances for his national side in each format of late. In the recently concluded England tour of India, he was outstanding with the bat – scoring 526 runs at a batting average of 43.83. His excellent form is something MI would want him to continue in the IPL 2021.

The venues of Mumbai Indians have been quite good for Rohit. The flat decks of Bengaluru and Kolkata should help him. The stadium in Delhi has short boundaries and could favour the Hitman if the decks don’t assist spin a lot.

 

Rohit has been sensational in three of the four venues: Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. His white-ball format numbers aren’t that bad in Bangalore (average of 109.25 in ODIs) as the chart above shows. However, the Chepauk leg poses a big challenge for him. Given his poor record and struggles against spin, Rohit might not find it easy. Also, the new nut swings in Chennai due to humidity and the challenge for him gets bigger.

Mumbai Indians’ batters – SKY, Hardik and Kishan – are constantly improving. Thus, Rohit should play a more attacking brand of cricket, from the beginning. Given MI’s batting depth, Rohit can bat freely and get back to at his very best.

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