In a candid conversation with fellow India cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma looked back on his iconic 209-run knock against Australia in Bangalore in 2013.
It was after that match that Sharma earned his now-famous moniker of ‘Hitman’, the origin story of which he also revealed during the chat with Ashwin.
As he began recounting that match, he started off with his thoughts heading into the series, “It was an important series for us as I had just started opening for India. We'd played Champions Trophy, then we went to West Indies after that, and then it was this tournament against Australia.”
‘When Australia travel, they go that extra mile.’
Sharma made it clear how then, as it is now, facing up against Australia was a special challenge, especially when they go to play overseas. “When Australia travel, they go that extra mile,” he remarked.
“You want to prove a point and beat them, and I took it as a challenge.”
Poolside push from Yuvraj Singh
In the days leading up to the series decider in Bengaluru, Sharma recollected a poolside conversation with Yuvraj Singh, who remarked that it was a great opportunity for Sharma to get a first big hundred.
Sharma remembered the moment when he realised the onus was on him to spur India on to win, “It rained for a brief spell. Shikhar (Dhawan) got out in second over, then Virat (Kohli) was run out (for a duck) and then the whole stadium was looking at me.”
Captain knows best, but Rohit Sharma knew better
After a brief partnership with Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh, it was up to Sharma and MS Dhoni. The 2011 World Cup-winning captain told Sharma to take a backseat and the odd boundary.
“You know how it is with MS in the middle,” said Sharma. “He likes to talk, he likes to keep adding his thoughts about what I should do.”
“He was telling me ‘Let me take chances, you just take a backseat, take singles, knock the ball in the gaps, and find the odd boundary if you can’. And I just thought ‘no yaar, I’m seeing the ball really well…I might as well put pressure on the bowlers right here, right now’. Then I decided to just go after the bowlers, and hitting Xavier Doherty for four sixes in an over!”
Sharma went on to rack up 114 runs off 59 balls during his partnership with Dhoni, which proved pivotal in denying Australia a successful chase.
After the match, a weary Sharma agreed to head down to the media centre where a man he now referred to simply as 'PD' and 'Chahal's younger brother’, commented, “Man, you played like Hitman. You're a Hitman!" And ever since, that nickname has stuck.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Paul Ellis