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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Through nine T20 World Cups: Rohit & Shakib have seen it all

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Rohit Sharma and Shakib Al Hasan are the only two players to have featured in each edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and will be up for the challenge again starting next month.

Rohit and Shakib were the flag-bearers of the next generation of cricketers when they made their respective debuts in the T20 World Cup in its first iteration in 2007.

Both of them had memorable starts in the tournament, giving an early glimpse of their unmistakable talent in South Africa.

Rohit’s first innings came in a crunch group clash in 2007 against South Africa in Durban, where his maiden T20I fifty saw him win the Player of the Match award and ensured India’s spot in the semi-finals of the tournament.

Shakib, meanwhile, played a massive role in Bangladesh’s stunning win over West Indies in Johannesburg. A 20-year-old Shakib ran through the West Indies middle-order to finish with figures

of 4/34. Bangladesh would then go on to register just their third victory in men’s T20Is with a clinical run-chase.

Shakib finished with six wickets in the tournament, while Rohit went on to play a massive role in India’s title win in the final against Pakistan. Walking in at 111/4, Rohit smashed 30 off just 16 balls

to help India post 157 on board, a total that proved to be just enough in a thrilling finale, an ICC

report said.

The 2009 tournament began well for Rohit, who hit a 23-ball 36 against Bangladesh opening the batting, with Shakib eventually cleaning him up. He went on to smash a fifty against Ireland in the next game, but subsequent games didn’t go too well for the Indian opener as the team crashed out

in the second round of the tournament.

One of Rohit’s best knocks in the tournament came in 2010 in a losing cause against Australia in Bridgetown. Chasing 185 for a win, Rohit waged a lone battle, smashing an unbeaten 79 off just

46 balls with only one other batter crossing double digits.

Shakib’s highest score in the tournament came two years later against Pakistan in Kandy, a 54-ball 84 that wasn’t quite enough to help the team to a win.

The star players arguably had their best tournament in 2014 — while Rohit was the second-highest run-scorer for India in their run to the final, Shakib stepped up with bat and ball, making 186 runs and taking eight wickets.

Shakib’s Player of the Match performance (a spell of 3 for 8) against Afghanistan set the tone for Bangladesh in the home tournament.

Rohit starred with half-centuries in two of India’s first three games in 2014, against West Indies and Bangladesh, and made a quickfire cameo in the semi-final against South Africa in Mirpur. India went on to lose the final against Sri Lanka where Rohit made a 26-ball 29 from the top of the order.

Shakib had a fantastic tournament with the ball in 2016 in India, taking 10 wickets in seven games, including a 4/15 against Oman. But his best tournament as a bowler came in 2021, where he snared 11 wickets in at an average of 11.18.

He also made two forty-plus scores in the first round, but Bangladesh couldn’t go past Group 1. Rohit also had a good tournament on a personal front that year, making two fifties in five games, but India missed out on a semi-final spot with losses to Pakistan and New Zealand.

In 2022, Rohit Sharma led India for the first time in a T20 World Cup and while he had an ordinary tournament with the bat, making one half-century in six games, the team made it to the semi-finals under his captaincy.

Shakib took six wickets in the tournament, including a vital spell of 2/33 against India in Adelaide in a game that went down to the wire.

Next month, the two stalwarts will once again appear at the T20 World Cup, making comebacks of their own.

Rohit returned to the Indian T20I team after a two-year absence and will lead the side. Shakib was sidelined for a couple of months with an eye injury, but made a successful return to the Bangladesh team in May in the bilateral series against Zimbabwe.

India are in Group A of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 along with Pakistan, Canada and Ireland being the other teams. Bangladesh are in Group D with South Africa, Sri Lanka, Netherlands and Nepal.

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