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ICC World Cup 2019: Rohit Sharma's Biggest Battle is With Law of Averages - and He's Winning it

Karthik Lakshmanan |July 8, 2019, 8:16 AM IST
ICC World Cup 2019: Rohit Sharma's Biggest Battle is With Law of Averages - and He's Winning it

Leeds: South Africa, Pakistan, England, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - conquered. Sachin Tendulkar's tally for most World Cup centuries - equalled. First batsman to score five tons in a World Cup - done. Tendulkar's record for most runs in a single edition of a World Cup - almost there.

Rohit Sharma is quite literally owning this World Cup. He's now in a territory where there's only one opponent that can defeat him: The Law of Averages.

Google defines law of averages as 'the supposed principle that future events are likely to turn out so that they balance any past deviation from a presumed average.'

Don't bother understanding the nuances of the definition. Because, clearly, Rohit Sharma doesn't.

In cricketing terms, a player isn't supposed to be in this kind of a form. Something or the other will happen that will somehow prevent it. The invisible factor called luck would suddenly go against you, and bring you back to the ground because cricket is supposed to be a great leveler.

But it's been quite the opposite with Rohit this World Cup. South Africa, Australia, England and Bangladesh have dropped him early. Pakistan missed two run out chances. The only time 'luck' has really gone against Rohit was against West Indies when he was given out caught behind in a dubious DRS call.

Rohit

Rohit is clearly owning law of averages for now, and that's not by chance. He has a method to it. It sounds crazy, and goes something like 'forget you've played one-day matches and scored centuries'. How can law of averages catch up when you're not even aware that you're supposed to fail according to the law? Insert clever-thinking guy meme.

Here's an imaginary conversation between Law of Averages and Rohit.

LoA: Rohit, you've scored too much already. It's time to fail.

Rohit: Have I? I've never played a one-day match or scored centuries. Come next match.

*Next match*

LoA: Rohit, I see you've scored again. You must fail.

Rohit: But I've never played a one-day match or scored centuries. Come next match.

It's almost like in the Hindi movie Stree, where villagers keep out an evil spirit by writing 'oh Stree, Kal aana' (Stree, come tomorrow) outside their walls.

How exactly that's possible when you've scored so many centuries that people are not even missing Virat Kohli's tons is a mystery. But it's not far from the truth. Rohit has no clue what records he has broken or is close to breaking. His response when informed that he's 26 runs away from Tendulkar's tally of runs in the 2003 World Cup betrays a lot.

"26, I don't know... what?"

"Oh, okay. No, no, see, I'm not here for records. I'm here to play cricket. I'm here to play and score runs and lift the cup. That is what I'm here for. I'm not looking at all those things at all, honestly."

One can sense the honesty in the 'honestly'. Rohit isn't just acting ignorant because it sounds cool.

What Rohit means is that he stays in the present. He also shuts down voices from outside - ones in hotel rooms constantly egging him to score more centuries, the media and commentators going overboard in praise and so on.

"Constantly yapping in anyone's ear is not right. But it's important for us to just completely put that away and focus on the job at hand," he says.

Rohit checks WhatsApp, because he gets messages from family and friends. But even that is reserved for travel days. He stays away from everything else and "enjoys the beautiful weather in England" with his family.

Prior to the tournament, his only focus was on 'being in a good head space' - something he chatted about with Yuvraj Singh during the IPL. He wouldn't reveal what exactly he does to get into that space, saying it's too personal.

ICC

Whatever he did, though, is working. Rohit is in the best of zones and forms on and off the field. Everyone knows what he's doing on the field, so let's summarise some off the field events.

After a century in an earlier game - I forgot which one because he has scored so many - Rohit credited his success to his new-born daughter. He then corrected that on twitter, saying 'this is gonna get me into trouble. You missed someone there who played a part too'. He even showed the world a clever, sly and funny way to protest umpiring decisions a day after the West Indies game.

The best of Rohit Sharma is reserved for the press conferences. For most players, especially Indians, press conferences are mundane activities that have to be done for the sake of it. There's hardly anything new, hardly anything insightful. Try as hard as you can but all that you can get out of Jasprit Bumrah is different versions of him saying 'preparation is key'. Mohammed Shami talks about sticking to basics. Yuzvendra Chahal talks about bowling in tandem with Kuldeep Yadav. Kuldeep Yadav talks about bowling in tandem with Yuzvendra Chahal.

Rohit is the only one who brings life to the media interactions, with his wit and unique humour. Most of it comes out when he's asked - how do I put this mildly without hurting my fraternity - mundane questions.

"What advice would you give to Pakistan batsmen to get out of their crisis?"

"I will definitely answer if I become the Pakistan coach."

"Were you surprised to see Rishabh Pant walk out at No. 4?"

"Not really because all you guys wanted Rishabh Pant to play, right? All you guys, right from India. Where is Rishabh Pant? Where is Rishabh Pant? There he is... at Number 4!"

"Any message for MS Dhoni's birthday?"

Dismissive, sarcastic, but not in the Nick Kyrgios manner.

All this shows the zone Rohit is in. The on-field performances are just a consequence. For a man in such a space, even law of averages - or the potentially massive jinx in the form of this article - isn't a hindrance.

The only aspect where law of averages seems to have got the better of Rohit is in preventing him from converting centuries to double-centuries.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

Pos Team P W L T/NR PTS NRR
1
IND
9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
2
AUS
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
3
ENG
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
4
NZ
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
5
PAK
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
6
SL
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
7
SA
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
8
BAN
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9
WI
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
10
AFG
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more