A Miandad moment

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Rohit would remember these two sixes not because they were gloriously executed cricketing shots, but because those were struck under immense pressure.

Few accomplishments in cricket are as romantic as last-ball sixes. The closest cross-sport comparisons could be sealing a stoppage-time thriller with a bicycle kick or a 30-yard volley, or winning the tie-breaker with a stream of thunderous aces. Rare, rousing and refined as the occurrences are, they remain stamped in hearts forever, its romance and allure blossoming by each passing. So even 34 years after Javed Miandad blasted a last-ball six to win Pakistan the Australasia Cup, it remains a bleeding wound in a nation’s heart. In this span, India might have established itself as the most powerful cricketing nation in the world, but any recollection of that evening breaks its heart multiple times, makes it shrivel into a shell of fear. Then on, the face of pantomime villainy was always Miandad.

New Zealand may not mourn the defeat in Hamilton, accomplished by a brace of Rohit Sharma sixes in the last two balls of the Super Over, as India did on that Sharjah night. In his sprawling career, Rohit has struck more sixes than any other Indian batsman and arguably, more effortlessly. He has hit a six of every five deliveries he has faced in white-ball cricket. Six-hitting at any juncture of the match requires a variety of factors to combine — daring, skill, power, judgement, calculation and awareness. But it’s a different beast when a batsman is chasing, when he knows he’s doomed if he can’t hit it.

Rohit would remember these two sixes not because they were gloriously executed cricketing shots, but because those were struck under immense pressure. India needed 10 runs of two balls; there was no room for error, or miscalculation. A batsman requires an obscene amount of composure, confidence and courage, besides skills, to deliver in these moments. And Rohit demonstrated all of these qualities on Wednesday. For the Kiwis, the face of pantomime villainy, along with Ben Stokes, could be Rohit Sharma from here on.