Manchester: You're supposed to be happy after scoring 140 off 113 in a World Cup game against Pakistan.
Okay, no batsman is 'happy' moments after being dismissed irrespective of his score. But if someone had just tuned in to the cricket and seen Rohit Sharma's reaction after scooping Hasan Ali to short fine-leg, he/she can be forgiven for thinking Rohit had made a first-ball duck. Yes, it was a school-boy error. The fielder had just come in from fine leg, allowing an extra fielder in the deep in the 'V'. It was highly unlikely that Hasan was going to double bluff. He was always going to bowl a slower ball, and still Rohit played the one shot you don't to such deliveries.
What followed was extraordinary. He slammed the bat onto his pad. He swung so hard that had he missed the target by inches, he could have severely damaged his leg. Rohit was biting his teeth, anger oozing out of his face, the now famous 'Ben Stokes' expletive from his mouth. The non-striker Virat Kohli sensed Rohit's rage, and gently tapped him on his shoulder as he walked past. It did nothing to cool Rohit down.
When you score 140 off 113 in any game, leave alone a World Cup game against Pakistan, you're supposed to walk off the field waving your bat. But not Rohit. Not today. The crowd, which included his family, stood up in unison. But Rohit hardly noticed. He was way too angry for that. Finally, moments before he took the steps to the dressing room, he noticed the crowd and acknowledged them with a quick bat-raise. Blink and you miss it. He did it only because it would have been arrogant not to.
It's rare to see Rohit so animated. If MS Dhoni is cool, Rohit is chill. Everything about Rohit suggests he's here to just enjoy his time, and I mean it in a good way. He jokes around and pulls the legs of his teammates on social media. He fools around on the field too; we've all seen him breaking into a mini-dance after taking Hashim Amla's catch against South Africa, and hilariously taking a dig at the umpire after a shocking decision that was reversed against Australia.
He has some fun with the media too. When a journalist asks him what Pakistan must do to overcome their batting crisis, he replies: "I will answer that when I become Pakistan's coach, not now" bringing the roof down.
Rohit is not the intense types like many others in the side. His 'lazy' demeanor even worked against him in the initial days. Now, he's well beyond the stage of taking things too seriously. You hardly see social media photos of Rohit working out hard in the gym. Not too long ago, there were even doubts on whether he passed on the yo-yo test. He is obviously fit, but staying intense forever is just not his personality.
Rohit's reaction was an aberration, but it just showed he was in the 'zone'. The scoreboard didn't matter, the situation didn't matter. Rohit was enjoying striking the ball, and was angry he was missing out on around 12 more overs of it.
When a batsman is in that 'zone', magic naturally happens. The most magical moment of the knock was a throwback to another India-Pakistan World Cup game, when another batsman from Mumbai was in the 'zone'. A fast bowler bowling short and wide, and the batsman slashing it over backward point for a six. Hasan Ali and Rohit now, Shoaib Akhtar and Sachin Tendulkar then.
Rohit's was, in my opinion, an even more incredible shot because it went flatter, and he didn't have the pace of an Akhtar to work with.
As much as it is a moment of magic from Rohit's perspective, it also encapsulates how much rubbish Pakistan bowled at Rohit in the game. Often short, often wide, occasionally even full tosses. Rohit loves the short stuff; he pulled, hooked, slashed and cut. Only 34 of Rohit's 140 runs came in the 'V' down the ground, saying everything about Pakistan's lengths.
The deadly combo - Rohit's magic + Pakistan's erraticism - meant double-century No. 4 was a real possibility. Rohit is perhaps the only batsman who generates talk of double-centuries as soon as he reaches his fifty. In the three previous occasions, Rohit took 114, 100 and 115 balls respectively to reach the 100-run mark before launching. Here, he had launched much earlier. He took only 85 balls to get to his century, which came in the 30th over.
Twenty more overs of a well set and in-the-mood Rohit on a flat track against average bowling. Carnage was waiting to happen. If one had to describe in words the gasp - amid fans and definitely the players too - when he played that scoop, it would be fairly simple: '200 missed'. Just search 'Rohit 200' on twitter and see the results yourself.
For Rohit, though, it wasn't about the 200. It was about being robbed off some more fun, when he was in the zone.