Rohit Sharma glad that MS Dhoni finds him a capable opener

Rohit Sharma (right) said MS Dhoni leads them on to the ground, making sure everything is under control, there are no hiccups and there is no sence of panic © Getty Images

Sep 12, 2013

Since ICC Champions Trophy 2013, Rohit Sharma has been entrusted with the job of opening the batting for India. He opened the batting for India in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, scoring 177 runs from five matches that he played.

In the tri-nation series in West Indies, he scored 217 runs from five matches. His average was 54.25 in the series. Despite seldom being able to turn good starts into big innings, Rohit, along with Shikhar Dhawan, has been captain MS Dhoni’s go-to man. Rohit said he is happy that Dhoni trusts him in his ‘ability to open the batting and counter the new ball.’
“We [Rohit and Dhoni] haven’t spoken at length about this. But whatever little MS [Dhoni] spoke with me, he did convey that he thinks I have the ability to open the batting and counter the new ball. I’m glad he finds me capable of it and I’ve also been working hard on it,” Rohit was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Rohit said Dhoni is same on and off the field.
“The way he is on the field is exactly the way he is off it. When he leads us on to the ground, he makes sure everything is under control, there are no hiccups, there’s no sense of panic. His attitude is something he carries well and it rubs off on the rest of the players. He’s extremely calm and knows how to define the connect between drawing strategies and implementing them,” he said.
“He’s very friendly. He wants players to come and talk to him. He’s someone who’s really chilled out. If there’s a young guy coming into the team, he won’t feel for a minute that ‘oh MS is the skipper, can I talk so freely with him? Can I express myself?’ He takes care of that. If he feels someone is low or needs support, you don’t need to tell him. He’ll go to the player and talk to him. That’s his biggest strength – man-management. He knows his players are his match-winners and he wants them to be in the best frame of mind.”
The Mumbai Indians batsman looks up to Dhoni when it comes to fitness.
“He’s done so well in all the three formats. He’s been a great leader and he’s our role model. Emulating him is something the whole team believes in.”
Speaking about strategies which are helping team India, Rohit said, “The most wonderful thing about this is that if a player is just starting, the horses for courses concept helps a lot in him getting to understand his role. It is easier for him to know what is required and that helps him settle down quickly.”
Rohit said coach Duncan Fletcher is one person whom he can talk to about cricket at any hour of the day.
“He is so passionate about the game, he loves it so much. You wake him up in the middle of the night and he’ll ready to talk cricket. From my point of view — as a batsman — he is a really good thinker of the game. He knows what it takes to be at the top of the game, he’s very knowledgeable.”
“When it comes to making strategies, he exactly knows how to plan things, things like how to get a player out and all. On the field, of course it is up to the players… but background strategizing is what I’m talking about. He’s very good,” he added.
Speaking about the same time last year, when he was struggling with his form and was going through one of the worst phases, Rohit said, “I clearly remember what I was going through back then. I was going through a really tough time. The World T20 campaign was a disaster, my personal form during the tour of Sri Lanka was very bad. But then, 2013 has been pleasant so far, hope it continues.”
He added, “When you play international cricket, there are times when playing cricket alone isn’t the only thing eating into your energy. That’s probably the case in First-Class cricket. But as things move on, a sportsperson begins to understand the importance of factors surrounding the game. Be it the media, critics, fans, the competition – not just in terms of the opposition but also in making it to the team and continuing. So pressure can be a very abstract term when all these factors come into play. I try and stay away as much as possible from as many things I can.”
“Last year, in Sri Lanka. I wasn’t scoring, wasn’t even reaching double digits. It was really getting to me, frustration was at its peak. I used to keep asking myself day in, day out why I wasn’t getting it right and there were no answers. The frustration wasn’t because the coach or the captain was putting pressure on me or losing faith. It was inside my own mind that I was fighting a battle. I was making things complicated for my own self. It took time for me to realize that there was no point in doing that. There are times in our careers when these things happen. I gradually learnt. I was back in Sri Lanka later that year and I did reasonably well.”
Sharing his thoughts about not being able to convert good starts into big innings, he said, “Well, earlier it was about not getting runs, now it’s about not converting 50s into 100s. I’m sure next it’s going to be about not converting 100s into 150s. I don’t know why people pick on these things so easily. Okay, I do understand that challenge is a good thing and it makes you work harder. But I’ve also just started playing a new role in the team (as opener). It’s been just four months. People do expect too much in a very limited period of time.”
Rohit said it is great to have cricketers of same age in the dressing room more than seniors. He said, “It’s great when you have guys around you who are of the same age as you. You can simply chill, take your mind off, just chat about something else. These things matter especially when things don’t go your way. You can’t do that much when the seniors are around. Sometimes you’re too much in awe of them, sometimes you’re scared to approach.”
In the last few tournaments, Rohit has appeared to be a much changed player altogether. He feels it might be the way he approached earlier and now. However, he added, he can’t change overnight.
“Maybe it is the approach, I have worked on a lot of changes and gradually inculcated them. Frankly, I like to be myself as much as possible, and more importantly I can’t change overnight. Also, the change, if we’re talking about one, has to be from within, for a reason. And the reasons have to be the right ones. It takes time to figure out those reasons, but eventually it does happen. If you’re doing something right then you also learn with time how to take it forward.”
“It is also a quality that has to come to you naturally. As I said in the earlier question, the number of factors that define an international cricketer these days contribute to the maturity level as well, depend on how well he copes with them. Being in step with your teammates, the circuit, the international exposure at all times is very important.”