Ahead of the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka set to begin on February 24 at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow, captain Rohit Sharma addressed a virtual press conference addressing the role of an all-format captain, the appointment of Jasprit Bumrah as his deputy, the management’s plans for Sanju Samson and more.
Fresh off a 3-0 win over the West Indies, the Indian team will look to do an encore against the Sri Lankan visitors. With key players such as Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul missing the series, the upcoming series will be an opportunity for head coach Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma to provide enough game time to as many players as possible in the lead-up to the World T20 in Australia later this year.
Here are the excerpts from the press conference ahead of the first T20i against Sri Lanka in Lucknow:
On his captaincy:
It’s a huge honour. It’s a great feeling to be captaining India in all three formats. Obviously, I have a lot of challenges to look forward to now so once the opportunity came through, I was glad and very happy to be captaining the team and a solid bunch of guys so looking forward to lead them on the park and see what we can create on the field.
On having a bowler as a vice-captain:
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter whether it is a batter or a bowler being a vice-captain. It’s the mind of the individual that matters and I think Jasprit Bumrah has a great mind in the game. I have seen it closely so yes, it is a good way for him to step into the leadership role now. He has taken his game to the next level, I’m sure he wants to continue to do that even further. But this is only going to get him more confident in whatever he wants to do on the field. I know him closely and I talk to him a lot about cricket and I understand what sort of a cricketing brain he has so it’s nice to have him there in that role.
On the team’s plans for Samju Samson:
That guy has got talent, man. Whenever we have seen him bat in the IPL and all of that, he has produced knocks where everyone goes over the moon watching that innings. He has got that skill set to succeed. That is the whole point about the spot. A lot of people have the skill set, a lot of people have talent. It is how you utilise them that is the most critical part and I think it is up to Sanju now to understand how he wants to utilise that talent and how he can maximise it because as a team, and as a management... we have seen a lot of potential and a lot of talent and we see a lot of match-winning abilities in that individual so I hope we give him that confidence when he gets playing for us, whenever he gets the opportunity. I hope he understands that and he’s definitely in consideration which is why he is part of this team.
His back foot play is superb, some of the shots during the IPL such as the pick-up pull, the cut shorts, standing and delivering over bowlers’ heads so those kinds of shots are not easy to play and I believe that when you go to Australia, you need those kind of shot-making abilities and Samson definitely had it in him and I just him wish the best and hope that he utilises his potential to the maximum.
On workload management:
At the moment, I have no issues and I am looking forward to playing all the games. The workload always depends on what happens thereafter and you take it day by day and understand what you do and if a break is needed, you take a break and someone else comes in. You see how the other guy who can fill in, what sort of potential he has. At the moment, it seems to be okay.
On youngsters in the domestic circuit:
All I can tell them (performers in Ranji Trophy such as Sarfaraz Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Yash Dhull) is keep scoring runs and the opportunity will arise as it has for (Hanuma) Vihari, Shreyas Iyer, Shubhman Gill and all those guys, who are part of the test team now. A lot of these guys I know... you got to keep scoring runs, you got yo to keep your head down and keep doing your job, that is what I can tell them at the moment and that is all we can expect them also to do. And if there will be a time the opportunity will arise, pretty sure that they will also be focusing, getting more and more runs rather than worrying about getting selected or not and things like that.
On selection for Tests:
A lot of things depend on what sort of combination we have at the moment in our particular squad and what pitches we are playing on, the opposition, and things like that. So a lot of the selection depends on that as well moving forward. But like I clearly said, there are only three Test matches. For the two Test matches (against Sri Lanka), we have announced the team and there is one Test which will be played in England. We will see about England later. All these guys who have got an opportunity to play Ranji Trophy, I am very happy that they at least got to play Ranji Trophy, which is the most critical from their perspective. I hope we see more and more performances in the next two games as well.
On grooming youngsters for captaincy:
I won’t have that much of a role in telling them everything and obviously they all are mature cricketers but someone needs to be around to help them and guide them in difficult situations. I will be more than happy do that and that is how we have grown up and come through the ranks of becoming captain. We were also groomed by someone else. It’s a natural process and everyone goes through this, we are no different here. If we talk of (Jasprit) Bumrah, KL (Rahul), (Rishabh) Pant... all these guys, they have a big role to play in India’s success and at the same time, (they are) looked upon as leaders as well. They do understand what they need to do as individuals and there’s a responsibility on their shoulders and again I don’t want to put any pressure on them, these guys are very critical to us and we want these guys to come out freely and execute skills.