Not muscles, you need timing – Rohit Sharma and the art of hitting sixes

India

Nine centuries including a Test double, eight half-centuries, 201 fours and 66 sixes. Rohit Sharma is bossing international cricket in 2019, right on top of the run-scorers’ list for the year at the moment after his 43-ball 85 against Bangladesh in the second T20I, which levelled the series 1-1 with one match to go.

India’s stand-in captain was feeling so confident on Thursday evening that thoughts of hitting offspinner Mosaddek Hossain for six sixes in an over did cross his mind, when he was batting on 58 off 30 balls, but he could not go beyond three.

“That’s what I tried, I wanted to go for six in a row but when I missed the fourth one I decided to go for singles,” Sharma told Yuzvendra Chahal on bcci.tv after the game. “I knew that an offspinner was bowling, and the wet ball was not going to turn, so my plan was to stand still and hit the ball without stepping out.”

Facing Hossain, who was bowling from around the wicket, Sharma dispatched the first ball over deep midwicket, the second over deep backward square-leg and the third over wide long-on, all off flat deliveries. But he couldn’t quite connect with the fourth, a fuller delivery, and only got an edge, breaking the sequence. After 21 runs off the over, India got to their target of 154 with eight wickets in hand and 26 balls remaining.

“You don’t need just big muscles or power to hit sixes,” Rohit explained to Chahal. “You need timing and you need to hit it from the middle, your head should be still, your body needs to be in the right position. When you take care of these things on a good wicket, you will be able to hit sixes.”

It’s already November, and Sharma now wants to finish his outstanding year on a high note.

“It’s been a very good so far, just want to finish it off on a great note,” he told Star Sports at the post-match presentation. “We’ve got a few games coming up, one against Bangladesh and then there’s a whole West Indies series coming up as well. So yes, I’m quite looking forward to that, not to forget the two Test matches [against Bangladesh].”

Sharma admitted that having started the second T20I behind in the series, India were under pressure to stay alive and they needed one batsman to play a long innings to chase down the total.

“I always knew that Rajkot is a good track [for batting], it was good to win the toss, to have the score in front, and later on with the dew coming in, we knew it will be slightly difficult for bowlers in the end. We took advantage of that, had a great powerplay,” he said. “After that, it was just about carrying on and putting the pressure on the bowler.

“It was important to start like this for the team – one batsman had to play a long innings. We’ve seen so many times that if a batsman goes on, his team usually wins. A bit disappointed because I got out at the wrong time, nevertheless I’m happy with my performance and the team’s performance as well because we were under pressure after losing the first game. It was important to win this game or we would have lost the series.”

The win was set up by the bowlers, especially spinners Chahal and Washington Sundar, who returned a combined 8-0-53-3 to tie Bangladesh down to only 153 in batting-friendly conditions in Rajkot.

“Both Washington and Chahal are pretty smart and understand their bowling really well,” Sharma said. “They’ve been playing a lot of domestic cricket and IPL as well. More importantly, they analyse, and they always have conversations with the bowling coach and the captain as to where they can improve.

“Chahal, we have seen over the years, has bowled in difficult conditions and situations and somehow he has managed to get the team on top. And that has given him a lot of confidence moving forward. And same with Washy as well. Washington has been our new-ball bowler all this while, but today I wanted to change it a little bit and bowl him one over in the powerplay and have three overs at the back considering how big the ground was.”

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