Kohli and Rohit have for long been two of the best limited-overs batsmen in the world. And while Kohli is statistically placed far better than his deputy Rohit, Gambhir picked the latter for the impact he has created in the game.
Kohli is the fastest to 11,000 ODI runs, taking 54 fewer innings than the next best Sachin Tendulkar. His 43 hundreds in the format are second only to Tendulkar’s 49.
However, Rohit holds the unique distinction of being the only one-day batsman in history to have cracked three double centuries in the format. Rohit’s five centuries at the 2019 World Cup are also the most by any batsman in a single edition of the tournament.
“For me, white-ball cricket is all about impact,” Gambhir was quoted as saying by Sports Tak. “Kohli will end up getting many more runs than Rohit, and Kohli is among the greatest right now, but Rohit has an edge over Kohli because of the impact he has.
“I think he [Rohit] is the best white-ball cricketer in the world right now. He is not the greatest overall, but at the moment he is the best. He is the only player to have hit three ODI double hundreds, five World Cup hundreds [in one edition], and he is also the only player, who once he gets past 100-run mark, people say that he missed a double century. That speaks volumes about you.”
Gambhir said that credit for Rohit’s success must also go to former captain MS Dhoni, who identified Rohit’s potential as an opener and took the gamble of giving him a promotion at a time when India was starting to give up on the talented batsman’s potential.
Rohit’s average of 58.11 and strike-rate of 92.26 as opener are worlds apart from the corresponding numbers of 31.72 and 78.58 outside that position. “Where Rohit is today, it is because of MS Dhoni,” Gambhir said. “One good thing about MS was that he always kept Rohit in the talks. Even if he was not part of the team, he was always part of the group. He never let him get sidelined.
“It’s the backing of captain that makes or breaks a player. You can talk about the selection committee and team management, but if you do not have the backing from your captain, then it is all useless. Everything is in the hands of the captain. How MS Dhoni had backed Rohit Sharma over a period of time, I do not think any player has been given such support.”