At the age of 24, Rohit Sharma, who was dropped from India’s 2011 World Cup squad, could hardly have imagined himself as captain twelve years later, leading the team during the great comeback of the most world’s major cricket tournament in India. . Rohit had a fairly ordinary record in his first four years of ODIs. In fact, before the World Cup, he had scored just 1248 runs from 57 innings at an average just a shade over 21. In 2009, Rohit suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six months, and although he recovered from by the time the World Cup arrived, the returns just weren’t good enough. Instead, the Indian team decided to field Virat Kohli as their No.4, a move that paid off. India won the coveted trophy, but a sidelined Rohit licked his wounds and did not attend a single World Cup game.
Of course, a twist of fate awaited Rohit and his fortunes changed in 2013 when MS Dhoni promoted him to open for India. But did you know… that despite his low numbers, Rohit was almost a part of India’s World Cup plans ahead of the tournament? Raja Venkat, one of the members of the BCCI selection committee led by Kris Srikkanth in 2011, in a stunning revelation, revealed that Gary Kirsten was in favor of Rohit’s inclusion but Dhoni’s thought process made the former India coach to change his mind.
“When we sat down to pick the team, Rohit was very much in the scheme of things. Yashpal Sharma and I were in South Africa at the time because India were touring South Africa and the other three selectors – Srikkanth, [Surendra] Wow, too [Narendra] Hirwani – was in Chennai. So when we were picking the team, numbers 1-14, every name was accepted by the panel. No 15, we suggested the name of Rohit Sharma. Gary Kirsten also thought it was a perfect choice. But the captain wanted Piyush Chawla. So immediately, Kirsten did a somersault. He said, “I think it’s a better choice.” So, that’s how Rohit Sharma was left out,” Venkat told RevSportz in a freewheeling chat.
Venkat, who was part of the panel including Surendra Bhave, Narendra Hirwani and Srikkanth as other selectors, further revealed that the decision to leave out Rohit for Chawla was unanimous and they did not get a chance to convey the message to the axe-wielders of India.
“We didn’t get a chance to speak to him, but again we were disappointed that we couldn’t pick him. But when the captain and the coach wanted Piyush as the 15th member, we all accepted it. We had initially picked the 15th which we all felt was the right. Unfortunately we had to make a change and we had to give it to the captain and the coach,” Venkat further said.
“Really, really disappointed that I wasn’t part of the WC squad… I have to move on from here but honestly, it was a big fail,” Rohit had posted on X (formerly Twitter). But as luck would have it, Rohit had become a match winner by the 2015 World Cup and was instrumental in India’s run to the semi-final scoring 330 runs from 8 ODIs. Four years later in England, Rohit created history in the 2019 World Cup as he not only became the highest scorer with 648 runs but with five centuries, he also broke Kumar Sangakkara’s record for most hundreds in a single edition of a World Cup .
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