Captain Sharma opens a new page

Captain Sharma opens a new page

Mumbai Indians' skipper takes an important step

Captain Sharma opens a new page

Few young cricketers have divided the opinion like Rohit Sharma has.

Rohit’s supporters have always marvelled at his abundant talent, evidenced by the smoothness of his batting and that extra second to play shots. His detractors put their fingers on his failure to perform consistently at the international level. But during this edition of the IPL, Rohit unveiled a different facet of his personality.

The 26-year old guided Mumbai Indians to their first IPL title after taking over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting with a 23-run win over Chennai Super Kings in the final. Rohit did an admirable job in leading a side that has several star players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard, Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga.
Mature and receptive

He showed a mature and receptive mind, a necessity for a captain, and the burden of captaincy didn’t affect his batting. He was Mumbai’s highest run-getter of this IPL. Rohit said he enjoyed the responsibility of leading the side.

“Right from day one, when I was given this responsibility of captaining Mumbai, it has been a great journey. It was a great experience personally for me to lead such a strong side, containing a lot of big and experienced players,” Rohit said.

As any young player, Rohit too was animated on the field, but he also displayed some tactical nous. He entrusted Malinga, who hasn’t handled the new ball for some time in the IPL, with the responsibility of opening the attack against Chennai Super Kings at the Eden Gardens on Sunday, and the move paid rich dividends.

The Lankan pacer jettisoned Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina in successive deliveries to cripple Super Kings, and the two-time champions never really recovered from those early blows.

Rohit said he likes to keep things simple on the field. “As a captain, it’s always good to see thoughts flowing around, and it’s up to me to decide what I want to do because captain is the leader of the side. I am not a taskmaster. I like to keep captaincy very simple. The simpler you keep it, the easier it gets. When there are tough situations, you always go out and seek advice from the seniors. But my strength is that I like to keep it simple, stay calm and composed. It has worked for me,” he said.

Rohit the batsman too played a significant role in Mumbai’s title victory. Though he didn’t fire in the title decider, there have been a number of occasions when the right-hander’s calmness fuelled Mumbai’s wins.

Rohit said he has learned a lot from former Australian skipper Ponting. “He was talking a lot to the batters all the while. He has been in such situations so many times for Australia, and he knew exactly the kind of mindset we should have in each of those situations. Since he dropped himself (from the team due to poor form), he never looked back.

Ponting’s help

“He was always there, watching and reading the game. Whenever I required any help, I had some long discussions with him. He played a very crucial role along with others like Anil (Kumble), John (Wright) and Robin (Singh). As a batsman, it was important for me to go and talk to him. He shared a lot of thoughts, and that helped me a lot. It was a great experience sharing the space with him,” Rohit elaborated.

The IPL certainly doesn’t have any direct bearing on international cricket, but the confidence Rohit acquired while leading a side and the experience of interacting constantly with some top-of-the-line cricketing brains should stand him in good stead in the coming months.

Rohit has been included in India’s squad for the Champions Trophy, to be played in England next month, and, it’s a good place to begin a new chapter in his international career.

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