Rahul Dravid, who earned the nom de guerre ‘The Wall of India’ owing to his talismanic batting abilities, was nominated twice for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award by the BCCI. However, first Pankaj Advani, World Amateur Champion in Billiards and Snooker, and then Olympic medallists Vijay Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, won the coveted awards, keeping Dravid at the bay twice.
Similarly, former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly was nominated for the award in 2004, but Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore ended up winning it. Similarly, Virat Kohli was nominated in 2016 and 2017, but P.V. Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Deepa Karmakar and Jeetu Rai received the award jointly on the first occasion, while Indian hockey captain Sardar Singh and two-time Paralympic champion Devendra Jhajharia received this award on the second time.
Despite Kohli being nominated for the third consecutive year in 2018, the selection committee earlier had decided to give the award to the Weightlifting World Champion Mirabai Chanu, but that time it was decided that Mirabai would share the award with the star batsman.
It seems, given by the repeated snubs, the BCCI nominations for the award do not carry much weight. There is an acute possibility that Rohit Sharma, the Indian ace batsman, might face a similar fate. Everyone’s attention is on Rohit as to whether he would share the same destiny as Dravid, Ganguly and Kohli, or he will get the award. Incidentally, Anil Kumble, the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket from India and who took all 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan, could not get the award.
Apart from Rohit this time, boxer Amit Panghal, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, and wrestler Vinesh Phogat have also been nominated for this award by their respective federations. All three have great records under their names, especially winning gold at the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018.
Rohit has scored most runs in the World Cup last year, hitting five centuries in a single World Cup tournament and setting a record. He has a record of most double centuries (3) in ODIs and is the only Indian having most centuries (4) in T20I. When he got an opening opportunity in the Test, he made the most of it by scoring a century against South Africa in Visakhapatnam and a double century in the same series.
It is to be noted that the performance of the last four years is the parameter used for the Rajiv Gandhi Award. And during this period, Rohit has scored a double century against Sri Lanka in Mohali, besides hitting three T20 centuries out of four.
More than once this award has been given either based on the performance in the Olympics, or it has been shared between two players. In 2018, Kohli received this award along with Mirabai Chanu, and in 2019 para-athlete Deepa Malik and Bajrang Punia won it. It is possible that this time too, this award gets shared between two players.
It is to be noted that the performance of the last four years is the parameter used for the Rajiv Gandhi Award. And during this period, Rohit Sharma has scored a double century against Sri Lanka in Mohali, besides hitting three T20 centuries out of four