Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma (AFP Photo)

Rohit Sharma, after leading India to an unbeaten run en route to the Asia Cup title in the UAE on Friday , said his team ticked all the boxes and the challenge would be to continue doing that in the upcoming tournaments.

Rohit has now led India to seven wins out of eight ODIs under his captaincy. Overall, it’s the fourth time that he has been the skipper when India have won a series.

“I have led India before. I understand the dynamics of this team – how we play cricket and how we want to go forward as a team,” Rohit said at the post match press conference on Friday. “In this tournament, I can say we ticked all the boxes. And that is the challenge for us to keep continuing to tick those boxes and get better as a team.”

He though added he would have liked the middle-order to get more chances and he had to point out, fielding is one area where there was some scope for improvement.

“Our middle order didn’t get as many chances as we would have like to. Our top-order did most of the work but they have shown signs of handling pressure. It’s a different matter they couldn’t finish the job but they handled pressure well. From first match onwards, our performance was dominating. Fielding is one area where we have scope of improvement. Overall, as a captain and player, I am very happy,” the 31-year-old said.

In their last ODI series, India suffered a 1-2 defeat to England. For Asia Cup, they rested regular skipper Virat Kohli and went to the six-nation tournament with a young team. Rohit said their message to the youngsters was brief and simple – treat international stage like you are representing your teams in domestic cricket, play freely and change nothing.

“Asia Cup is a big tournament. We did lose in England but we weren’t playing badly. We weren’t able to finish the game. Few senior players weren’t available for this tournament but those who were, they have the capability to win us matches. They have done this for their teams be it the state or in the IPL. I think nobody took any pressure.

“As a management our job is to give the freedom to players to play freely like they do at the domestic level. Our message to them was clear – treat this as how you play for your teams back home. Don’t change anything. These players have the talent otherwise it would have been someone else. It was important to tell them that to get rid of any insecurity,” he said.

He credited the spinners for adjusting well to the slow conditions and bringing them back in the contest against Bangladesh in the final.

“We came here with a young team. Most of them did not have the experience of playing in such conditions so it wasn’t easy for them. Few came from England and it was important to get used to these hot conditions. It was a challenge. Our spinners consistently bowled well in slow conditions. Even today, after Bangladesh began well in the first 20 overs, spinners brought us back in the contest. Their consistency is a positive sign,” he said.

When the regulars return, those who have been part of the Asia Cup squad will have to make way for them. Rohit said this is what’s happening with every team nowadays but those who aren’t regulars, are making every opportunity count.

“It’s a challenge for any team when few of your senior players are rested and then make a comeback, few other guys will miss out. This has been the hallmark of cricketing fraternity. Every team is doing that and also guys understand that. So whenever they get the opportunity they make it count. For us, as a captain or coach, we have to ensure they have the liberty to play their game,” said Rohit who finished the tournament with 317 runs and an outstanding average of 105.67.