Rohit Sharma's impressive captaincy for Mumbai Indians in IPL and CLT20 bodes well for India

In six seasons, MS Dhoni has won two IPL titles and one CLT20 title as a captain. Rohit Sharma (left), in his first season of captaincy, won both the titles © IANS

He might be described as someone who has failed to realise his potential as a batsman in international cricket, but Rohit Sharma has certainly left many amazed with his leadership qualities, leading the Mumbai Indians to their second tournament win within a span of six months. Devarchit Varma takes a look at the impressive captaincy of the Mumbai lad…

Two in two — reads the scoreline for the Mumbai Indians in the year 2013. After winning the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Rohit Sharma-led team registered their second title win of the year by defeating the on-song Rajasthan Royals in a comprehensive manner in the final of the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) to stamp their authority in franchise cricket after years of disappointment.

The Mumbai Indians have marked a special year in 2013 while giving a fitting farewell to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar — first by winning the IPL trophy for him after a long wait for six years and now the CLT20. Tendulkar had made his intentions clear that the CLT20 2013 will be his last tournament for the Mumbai-based side, and the franchise wanted to give the Little Master a perfect send-off, which they did!
But it wouldn’t have been possible had Mumbai Indians been knocked out of the tournament after they suffered a defeat in first group match, which was followed by a washed out game. While the hopes were fading fast, after Perth Scorchers set a challenging total of 150 to achieve within 14.2 overs to stay alive in the tournament, it was Rohit Sharma, their captain, who came to the party and ensured that the IPL champs remained afloat.

Rohit played the innings of the tournament — the knock of 51 not out off just 24 balls, studded with four sixes and three fours, not only ensured that they qualified for the semi-final, but it was also a crucial in a few more ways. Till that stage in the tournament, the Mumbai Indians hadn’t played up to their potential, risking their longevity. But Rohit’s innings pushed his side to shrug off the slackness as time was running out fast, and also forced the opposition not to count the IPL champs out of the reckoning.

Leadership qualities come naturally to the Mumbai-born cricketer. They way he marshalled his troops from being good to being the best in IPL 6 justified that. Reeling under the burden of carrying the likes of the out-of-form Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar, having suffered two consecutive defeats in a tournament as crunch as the IPL, Rohit felt the pressure when he was handed the reins. But there was only one option as they say — do or die. Rohit chose the first.

With his calm approach and sharp cricketing brain, combined with his quality of being open for advice from all corners of the team, Rohit rebuilt Mumbai’s case in IPL 6 and stopped only when they emerged winners by 23 runs in the final against the mighty Chennai Super Kings. He turned a bunch of stars with sparks of brilliance into a match-winning combination, a dominant force, and supported the cause ably with his bat whenever needed.

They say gratitude is among the most important qualities in a successful person, they define him. Rohit, who took over the Mumbai captaincy job from a player several times higher than his repute and aura, Ponting, did not fail to mention what the Australian brought to the table sitting in Mumbai Indians’ dugout, while he led the team out in the park. “Personally, it was to take out his [Ponting’s] thoughts. It was important for me to go and talk to him. He was keeping a close eye on our approach. He was always there for us,” Rohit told a news agency.

Rohit’s leadership would have surprised many — certainly the ones who wrote him off after few failures in the international circuit. Today, Virat Kohli is touted as the one who would replace MS Dhoni as India captain. But if one wants to see Dhoni-like calmness and composure in the next Indian captain, it has to be Rohit. To get there, Rohit has many battles to win. Among them is to get a Test cap, immediately.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)