The Heartbreak of Johannesburg

India’s victory at the 2007 WT20 was the dovetailing of a multitude of individual narratives. One of them was the blossoming of Rohit Sharma on the international stage. Much had been said of him, but very less had been actually seen of him.
Helmet off and away he goes; Image Source: Cricket Country

Helmet off and away he goes; Image Source: Cricket Country

Rohit’s journey was the classic rags to riches story - born in Nagpur. he had to live with his uncle and grandparents in a small house in Dombivli. After starting out as a bowler initially, his coach saw his batting talent and promoted him up the order to the opener’s spot.

He’s never looked back ever since. The 2007 World T20 was when he proved his worth to the entire cricketing fraternity with two important innings- one against South Africa in a must-win group stage game and the other verses Pakistan in the finals.

Sharma followed his exploits in South Africa with a good outing in the CB series of 2008, but his showings on the pitch began tapering off. Indian Premier League in 2009 had been shifted to South Africa and once again, he had a chance to show his potential in the very place that it all had begun for him.

Kolkata Knight Riders were one of IPL’s most hotly followed teams before it had even begun. McCullum’s splendid innings in the first-ever IPL match expanded their fanbase even more, but that’s about when the merry times ended and the misery began.

KKR at this point lived to disappoint. Matches for them either turned to all-out drubbings or when they went down to the wire, they lost it more often than not. The games they did manage to win weren’t anything more than just formalities.

Under the pump, they always slipped. Against a determined Deccan Chargers, KKR eked out a sub-par total of 160 runs. The last few days of the IPL had served some close matches and it was apt that a match with KKR involved was the one that’d break that streak.

16 overs in the Chargers’ innings, KKR had taken everyone by surprise. Not only had they made a match out of the total, but DC had also fumbled the chase big time. On a pitch that was by no means a bowler's paradise, they had looked like a shell of themselves.

Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds were expected to go all guns blazing in the last four overs, but the next 3 overs just yielded three runs. 21 were needed from the last over. KKR were in the driver's seat. However, a car crash for them was in the reckoning.

Bangladesh international Mashrafe had been acquired for a hefty price tag, but he too had been dragged down the pit of mediocrity. Defending the total in the final over would’ve been a morale boost for him. Except it wasn’t.

A boundary off a no-ball and the deficit was down to 16 off 6 already. This inauspicious start made the total much more gettable. Mortaza responded well with just two of the next two but Rohit washed away the hard work with a massive 115 metres six.

Sharma scampered through a second run on the next and with a four on the next ball, all but sealed the game for his side. Still, KKR could salvage a super over from here. But of course, they couldn’t. A six off a banged in short ball finished the game. DC was happy beyond their minds. Mashrafe was on his knees. The commentators on ESPNCricinfo summed up the night succinctly: Can Kolkata ever win?


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