Rohit Sharma has not had pleasant Test cricket after his back-to-back centuries © Getty Images
Rohit Sharma has not had pleasant Test cricket after his back-to-back centuries © Getty Images

Rohit Sharma had a great IPL 2016 being the front runner for his team. He took his time to settle in International cricket but came out in flying colors once he did. Although luck might not have favored him with white ball, the red ball has done tricks for Sharma especially in limited over cricket. His excellence has awarded him CEAT ‘Indian cricketer of the year’ and indeed he has picked the pace. Test cricket is an area the 27-year-old is aiming for and has been criticised for. But looks like Sharma is set to shut the critics and wants to avoid the criticisms. His recent performance in Australia series has outgrown him as batsman. Unfortunately luck did not favour Sharma in this edition of IPL and were unable to make it to the Playoffs. ALSO READ: Rohit Sharma reveals his secret behind number 45

While in conversation with Times of India, Sharma revealed some facts and spoke about his performance in Test cricket. Firstly, he was elated on being chosen as ODI Cricketer of the year, “It’s nice to have won awards along the way but it doesn’t put me under pressure. I don’t go out on the field thinking that I want to be ODI or Test cricketer of the year. What motivates me is to win matches for my team and keep performing. Having said that, it’s a nice feeling to have won this award and see your performance recognised.”

Sharma credits’ opening the batting order has definitely boosted his performance in ODI cricket and for his IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, “Opening the batting definitely helped me change my batting. It gives you more time, responsibility. I never thought I’ll open the batting for India some day. I had opened for my school and college teams, but never for Mumbai. The team felt that I should be top of the order and I said ‘Ok, if they feel so, I should take it as a challenge.’ More than technique, I had to work on the mental aspect of my game too. Especially when you play outside India, it isn’t easy, because the conditions are different. You’ve got to counter those challenges. In my first stint as an opener, we won the Champions Trophy. I kept backing myself that I can do it. Then, I scored the double hundred against Australia.

When asked about his favorite knock 209 against Australia in 2013 or 264 against Sri Lanka in 2015, Rohit was diplomatic to choose any of them, “ It’s difficult to single out any particular knock, because both my double hundreds came in a winning cause. I cannot pick one because double hundreds aren’t scored every time in an ODI. 209 was my first double hundred, and came in a decider against Australia and 264 was a world record and in my first game after suffering a finger injury. To come out after a finger injury is never easy. It’s special because I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to hold the bat with the same power again. I was so nervous about it in the night before the game that I was thinking about how I’d bat, what would be my game plan? Would the finger affect my performance or strokeplay? But, on the match day, I went with an open mind, without thinking that I was injured for the last three months.”

T20 World Cup was a good time for him and then a sudden dip was found in Sharma’s performance, he was positive to come back in better form soon, “It’s sad but things like these happen. You’ll have tours where you’d not be that effective. But, I’ve learnt this in eight years that you’ve to take things in your stride and move forward. I understand that my form was crucial for us. Every time I went, I was only trying to do my best and give whatever I have. When you’re opening, the team expects certain things from you, like giving a solid start and put pressure on the bowlers from ball one. But again, I back my game. That’s how I approach cricket and if it doesn’t come off, I don’t want to get disappointed and put myself down. It’s just that we were unlucky in Mumbai, where things didn’t go our way. 192 was a competitive score on that track. We were one of the strongest bowling sides in the tournament.” ALSO READ: MI to play against associate nations in USA

Virat Kohli seems to be in the list of cricketer who are doing extremely well as per Sharma, “Ravi Shastri put it aptly when he said it’s only going to benefit Indian cricket. I can’t say if he’s the best in the world right now. There a lot of guys playing well and he’s obviously among them. I hate comparisons, because is not fair. People do it because it’s fun for them to do so. Everyone plays differently, bats in a different position. But yes, he’s right up there.”

Sharma who started off with back-to-back centuries in Test cricket, seem to have lost the touch with the same and Sharma seems to agree to the same, “If I’d have known what happened, I wouldn’t have been in this situation for sure. Yes, there’s been a lack of form since then. But again, I’m the sort who doesn’t dwell on the past, because the future is bright. I believe in certain things and one of them is what’s happened has happened. You can’t change it. There’s no way I can go back to the 16 Tests I’ve played and change anything. I can only look at the footage of what mistakes I’ve made and learn from that. I’m not here to please anyone. I’m here to play my cricket and make a contribution to team India. If X,Y, Z is not happy with my performance, they can be unhappy. I’m not going to change because they feel I need to change.” ALSO READ: Rohit Sharma: Want to be part India’s No.1 Test side

With the on-going talks about day-night Test cricket, Sharma seems to be happy about the same and said, “Oh that would be great! We’re all looking forward to it. I don’t know how it’ll pan out eventually. It will be good to play under lights, but we before we play it, we need to get used to it. We’ve played a lot of cricket with the white ball, but pink ball will be different. It’ll be exciting for people to watch. Let’s see how it pans out.”

With the head coach discussion reaching its peak level, Sharma says the team had fun time under Ravi Shastri, “These decisions aren’t in my control. Under Ravi Shastri, we had good fun and success. He understood us well, because before joining the team he was watching us play, so he understands where the guys are going. He knows exactly how each one of us wants to prepare, and he gives us the freedom to do so. I’m sure whatever decision the BCCI takes, it will be in the best interests of the team.

Sharma does realise inconsistency did not work in MI favour and that costed them to be out from the league, “We were inconsistent, which cost us big time. We have to accept the fact that we didn’t play the way we were expected to. Players need to keep performing consistently. It is something we need to focus on next year. We were only good in patches. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) won the tournament because they were consistent in all the departments. If you want to win the tournament, you want guys to chip in at crucial times, which didn’t happen with us.”