Rohit & Rishabh – Raring To Race Is This RR!

When viewed from the Buggy Cam, while it manoeuvres around the boundary line, two men stand out from the rest of the Indian slip cordon. Be it because of their scruffy stubble beard or the funky shades they sport, one is bound to confuse between the two. And not to forget their rather bulky physique!

Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant are the ones I am referring to. Of late, they seem to have struck a fine chord of friendship. Their relationship exudes carefreeness, just like their individual laid-back personas do. Despite a wide gap in terms of age, Rishabh has the liberty to share a burst of laughter with Rohit. Despite a narrow gap in terms of wage, Rohit has the liberty to display his anguish on Rishabh!

At times, there are reminiscent shades of Dilip Kumar – Shah Rukh Khan observed in the bonding of Rohit – Rishabh. At the heart of such ties, lies an essence of fondness, mutual admiration, and most importantly, a sense of understanding. The effort to capture the imagination of the masses, no one knows this better than the senior. The effort to sustain the imagination of masses, no one knows this better than the junior.

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An equivalent of such an equation within the team was also evident in the victorious World Cup’11 campaign. It was Sachin and Virat then, it’s Rohit and Rishabh now. For a nation that clings to hope, even to the extent of it being hollow, adults will be looking forward to celebrating like children on the night of 14th November. Eventually, it might turn out to be the other way around as well! (The final of the ICC Men’s T20 WC’21 coincides with the Children’s day on 14th November.)

Acceptance, only in its complete sense, is meaningful. Otherwise, the bliss of ignorance is always an available alternative. And since we are drawing confidence from the past, concern should be deduced as well:

The men in blue faltered at the ‘Super-8’ stage in the 2009 and 2010 T20 WC consecutively. Both the editions of the showpiece event were scheduled right after the conclusion of the IPL. Will we witness a repeat in this trend after more than a decade?

Let’s stop dwelling with concern and get back to deriving some confidence. This time, only a part of the IPL was held prior to the T20 WC. Who knows? It might turn out to be the perfect practice in retrospect. Plus, the absence of the ‘Super-8’ stage imbibes more hope. Oh, have we breached the border of ‘overconfidence by now?

Call it the after-effect of the ‘pandemic intermission’, the two halves of this IPL can be independently reviewed. And that’s the way it should be, because current form, much like the human memory, is short-term based. Neither Rohit nor Rishabh will have fond remembrances from the recently concluded phase of the IPL:

As far as their primary role is concerned, i.e., captaincy, Rohit couldn’t rewrite the history books as Mumbai Indians failed to bid their claim for their hat-trick (History books? No, call it fairy-tale books for it sounds too good to be true). On the other hand, it would have been a surreal experience for the Delhi Capitals as well, had Rishabh managed to deliver them their maiden title.

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I have labelled ‘captaincy’ as the ‘primary’ role. In cricket, more so in franchise cricket, this designation of responsibility holds far greater emphasis than what the stamped, minute sized, letter ‘C’ holds on the player’s profile picture. The scale of success for this individual isn’t the position he secures on the orange cap or the purple cap table. The final ranking that his team attains at the end of the season has become the indicator to judge his contribution as a player.

Embracing leadership in the IPL is synonymous with embracing motherhood. The personal aspirations of any young woman take a backseat when she brings her child up. All her energies get converged on the development of her child. The purpose of her own life, as conceived by the society, will only be fulfilled when her child grows up to become successful.

So, a mountain shouldn’t be made out of the molehill if we look at the duo’s recent scores! In the UAE gig of the IPL ’21, Rohit and Rishabh averaged 21.83 and 25.75 respectively. Only a single half-century between them with credit belonging to the latter. Understandably, these dismal numbers can numb the feet of any ardent fan. (The mere ‘look’ we began with will now end up in a ‘stare’).

However, when the temperature in the UAE started to dip, the form of the duo started to rise. Rishabh’s knock of 51 runs came towards the business end of the IPL (Qualifier 1). He also had a decent hit in the first warm-up match against England (29 runs off 14 balls – not out). It was then Rohit’s turn to have the ‘perfect practise’ in the second warm-up match. Donning the captain’s cap, he continued the winning streak and only returned to the pavilion after retiring himself out (60 runs off 41 runs).

From the Tests in the UK to the T20’s in the UAE, there has been no escape for the players from the loop of ‘Eat, Sleep, Play, Repeat’. Such a routine, for all good it does, dissipates the accumulating energy in the system as well. Remember Einstein’s famous formula of E = mc2?

Apart from the world of physics, this formula is also applicable in the physical world. The only variation is that the term ‘c’ doesn’t represent the speed of light. Instead, it stands for human parameters like creativity and courage (prerequisites of T20 cricket). Hence, for a man of constant mass ‘m’, his levels of ‘c’ will have a direct proportionality with his energy ‘E’.

Cricket also abides by this rule. The Windies players have boundless deposits of unchanneled energy and that’s what costs them in the longer formats. But, when they turn up in the T20 WCs, their energies get defined due to various reasons and they surprise everyone!

Coming back to our duo, gone are the days when Rohit or Rishabh would hit a criminal shot (a reckless or false shot in this context) and throw their wicket away. They have matured enough to function within the desirable limit of energy and thus produce innings filled with, at times, creative shots and at times, courageous shots. The more such innings come in the course of this T20 WC, the merrier will be the nation at the end of it!

Given how long this season has already been, do the duo have sufficient gas left in their tanks? The following two case studies might answer this question:

In the 2007 T20 WC, Yuvraj batted like there was no tomorrow! He would have been struggling with the trauma of the early exit from the 50-over WC, the fight of establishing himself in the test side, the heartbreak due to being smashed 5 consecutive sixes by Dimitri Mascarenhas. There was also an opportunity awaiting him to be at the helm of affairs in the white-ball formats. (Dhoni did the unbelievable and all the reports favouring Yuvi couldn’t see the light of the day!)

In the 2016 T20 WC, Virat single-handedly carried the team through! He was going in the tournament on the back of that infamous WC’15 semi-final defeat against Australia, patchy performances in the second half of the previous year. In the midst of all this, he was touted to be the sole captain of the ‘Indian cricket’ ship as and when Dhoni decided to call it quits!

Rohit and Rishabh find themselves in a similar space. Unsuccessful IPL campaigns in the recent past and the possible ‘successors-to-be’, at least the ‘winds of change’ suggest so, in the near future. A promotion in power can induce impetus in any individual, can’t it? All in all, fasten your seatbelts to experience the ride of this RR!

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