The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on Saturday, nominated Rohit Sharma for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2020. The board has also nominated Rohit Sharma’s teammates Ishant Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan as well as India women team star Deepti Sharma for the Arjuna Awards.
Rohit Sharma had a stunning 2019 with the bat. The right-handed batsman had his best year in terms of statistics across formats especially in ODIs. He finished the year as the highest run-scorer in the 50-over format, scoring a staggering 1,490 runs in ODIs including seven hundreds – the most by any player in the calendar year.
He was in phenomenal form during India’s run to the semifinals of the 2019 ODI World Cup, where he finished top-scorer with 648 runs. Rohit Sharma had also scored a record five centuries in the competition. Earlier this year, he was named ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year.
The Mumbai batsman had a revival in Test cricket too when he was promoted to the opening slot during the series against South Africa. He struck two hundreds in his maiden outing as a Test opener before adding a double century to his name in the Ranchi Test. Overall, his 2019 across formats reads 2,442 runs at an average of 53 with 10 hundreds.
As of now, he is arguably the best opener in the world. On the other hand, his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan also continues to be one of the leading openers in the world in limited-overs format. Dhawan has not looked back since starring in the 2013 Champions Trophy.
He holds the record for the fastest Test century on debut and is the only batsman in the world to have to won two consecutive golden bats (for most runs) in the ICC Champions Trophy. He is also the quickest Indian batsman to reach 2000 and 3000 runs in ODIs and second-fastest Indian to score 4000 and 5000 runs in ODIs. Ishant’s performance in Tests in recent years has been stunning too. He holds the record for most wickets by an Indian pacer outside Asia.
“We went through a lot of data and considered various parameters before shortlisting the nominees. Rohit Sharma has set new benchmarks as a batsman and achieved scores people thought were not possible in the shorter formats of the game. We feel he is worthy of getting the prestigious Khel Ratna award for his commitment, conduct, consistency and his leadership skills,” said BCCI president Sourav Ganguly.
“Ishant Sharma is the most senior member of the Test squad and his contribution has been vital in Indian team’s long run as the No. 1 Test side. Fast bowlers are prone to injuries and Ishant has had a fair share of them but he has fought hard to be back on the park every time. Shikhar has been consistently scoring at the top and his performances in the ICC events have been significant. Deepti is a genuine all-rounder and her contribution to the team has been vital,” he added.
So far, only three cricketers – Virat Kohli (2018), Sachin Tendulkar (1997) and MS Dhoni (2007) have been awarded the Khel Ratna.