Rohit Sharma © BCCI
Rohit Sharma © BCCI

Mumbai Indians (MI) have been a force to reckon with in the last 10 seasons of IPL. They had seen an upsurge since Rohit Sharma took over the reins. MI have won three IPL titles till date, all of them under Rohit. He was also a part of the Deccan Chargers team that won the IPL in 2009, albeit as a player. MI did not let go off Rohit in 2018 IPL. Along with him, they have also retained the core of MI barring Lasith Malinga, who will be seen in the role of bowling mentor this time around. Be it the Pandya brothers or Kieron Pollard or Jasprit Bumrah, MI have had their share of match-winners, but their success story has been largely dependent on Rohit, who was appointed captain midway through 2013.

In an interview with GQ, Rohit recollects the moment where it all started: “Anil Kumble [MI mentor] called me up to tell me that Ricky Ponting had decided to step down as captain, and that I would have to lead the next day’s game. I was in my hotel room when I got that call. I hung up, walked outside and took a deep breath. And just let the news sink in.”

Rohit’s captaincy was more or less cemented after 2013. With IPL bringing in new faces in the team every season, Rohit turned out to be captain who could continuously achieve the same target with a different unit. Let us not forget that Rohit had also proven his captaincy skills during the Nidahas Trophy that involved Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, with a second-string team in February.

Trivia: Rohit has been the most successful captain for MI with a win percentage of 61.87.

MI have always entered the competition with a favourite’s tag. They rarely manage to live up to in the initial stages. Then they win a few matches in the middle and squander at the finish of the league stage but somehow make it to the Playoffs. And once they crack that level, MI return to their champion best. Rohit seems to be on quest to crack the code behind this MI ritual: “I wish I could figure that out, because then we’d never lose! Because on any given day, you never know who’s going to step up and deliver.”

MI seem to be the favourites on paper once again in IPL 2018, but Rohit does not want to take some of the others lightly this season, particularly Delhi Daredevils (DD), Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP): “Ponting [now Delhi’s head coach] knows how to get the best out of everyone. Sunrisers Hyderabad will also be challenging because they have a good team balance. But I think Kings XI Punjab could be a surprise.”