"Really really disappointed of not being the part of the WC squad..I need to move on frm here..but honestly, it was a big setback..any views?''
January 2011: As the Indian Cricket Team was gearing up for the home World Cup, a shattered Rohit Sharma was expressing his disappointment at missing out from the squad on social media. Sharma was seeking views on his snub, while also acknowledging it as a 'setback' as he aimed to 'move on'.
It indeed was a huge setback for the talented youngster. Having made his international debut in 2007, Rohit was earmarked as the next big thing in Indian cricket following his impressive performances in the T20 World Cup and CB series in Australia.
The esthetics of his strokeplay and the temperament he showed during high-pressure games against South Africa and then in Australia left even the likes of Ian Chappell, and Ricky Ponting gasping for more.
However, Rohit struggled to marry his talent with consistency and was eventually dropped in favor of Virat Kohli, who had established himself into the ODI set-up on the back of sustained excellence.
Three months later, as the Indian team and the entire nation rejoiced in World Cup glory, Rohit would have certainly felt that he had missed out on being a part of something very special.
But, with age on his side, he still had a lot of time to bury the disappointment. And, it is fair to say that the 'HITMAN' has well and truly done that as an individual.
2011-15: Rohit Sharma unlocks 'Hitman' Mode
Rohit's road to redemption began in 2013 when he was promoted to the opening position. This proved to be the turning point of his career as, he, along with Shikhar Dhawan proceeded to form one of the greatest opening pairs that this format has ever seen.
In November 2013, Rohit scripted history as he smashed the Australians to the tune of 209 to become only the 3rd batsman to rack up a double-century in ODIs.
A year later, he went a few notches ahead as he smoked the Sri Lankans for an incomprehensible 264 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
With two double-centuries under his best, Rohit entered his maiden World Cup as one of the leading openers in the world. From not making it to the squad in 2011 to entering into the marquee event as one of the leading batsmen, Rohit had ticked off part 01 of his 'road to redemption'.
The next target was to carry his form into the tournament.
His best performance during the 2015 WC came in the quarter-final against Bangladesh. The right-handed batsman anchored the innings perfectly after India had lost three quick wickets, including Virat Kohli, and ended up scoring a match-winning 137 off 126.
However, his dream of winning the World Cup trophy was shattered by Australia in the semi-final.
2019 WC: Rohit stamps his authority with the bat but...
4 years later, Rohit returned to the World Cup arena after having established himself as one of the all-time greats of this format, and he took his legacy to a completely different level during that event.
Sharma unlocked beast mode on steroids as he went on a century-making spree, with the likes of South Africa, Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh being at the receiving end.
Amid the plethora of records he broke, Rohit became the first batsman to score 5 hundreds in a single event, and the joint-record holder for most centuries in the tournament's history alongside Sachin Tendulkar.
The 2nd part of his 'road to redemption' being ticked off in the round-robin stage, Rohit was now hungry to get his hands on the elusive trophy. But, once again, his and a billion dreams were again shattered by New Zealand in the semi-finals.
A tournament that had felt like a fairytale for the better part of a month ended in the most heartbreaking fashion and the expression of his face and the pain in his eyes was there for everyone to see.
2023 WC: A golden opportunity beckons for Rohit to complete his story
From not being a member of the squad in 2011 to leading the team in yet another home World Cup in 2023, Rohit Sharma completed a full circle on October 08, when he led his team in their campaign opener against Australia.
Unlike 2019, where he warmed up with a match-winning ton against the Proteas, Sharma registered a duck in his maiden WC game as captain.
However, he shrugged off the poor start with breathtaking ease against Afghanistan as he showcased his entire range of strokeplay to hammer a world-record 7th WC ton- 131 off 84.
In addition to this, his 63-ball ton is now the fastest-ever by an Indian in World Cups and the fastest by an Indian captain.
From expressing his disappointment on missing out on the World Cup party to becoming one of the biggest showstoppers of the marquee event, Rohit has certainly 'moved on', but can he complete his story by laying hands on that beautiful trophy on November 19, 2023, something he missed out on in April 2011? Only time and tell.
Featured Image Credit: BCCI