Up against two formidable captains in Steve Smith and MS Dhoni, it was Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma, who held his own. Defending just 129, held the reins tight even as the opposition batsmen kept chipping away at the target. He made some smart bowling changes and backed them with equally effective field placings.
Mumbai’s dramatic win over Rising Pune Supergiant in the final of the Indian Premier League, capped off a wonderful season for Rohit that has seen him get back to form after a lengthy injury layoff.
It is a good omen for him ahead of the Champions Trophy, where he will open the innings, considered a tough task in English conditions. But, it won’t be easy. Not only will the format change from 20 to 50 overs, but he will soon move from batting at No 4 for Mumbai to the opening slot for India.
Speaking a day after Mumbai’s one-run win, The 30-year-old brushed off any reservations about the move, adding that it will not create any problems for him when he opens the batting for India in England.
“IPL is different from international cricket. I spoke before the start of IPL that to give balance to the team I will bat lower down. I don’t know why people compare the two (situations),” said Rohit.
Before injuring his knee in November, Rohit had averaged 55.16 in the 2015-16 season. Scoring 1379 runs from 27 ODIs, he had made the opening slot his own. His partnership with Shikhar Dhawan had kept India in good stead.
Dhawan, though, has not been in fine knick off late and was even dropped during India’s series against England. He contributed with a few impressive knocks for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL, but onus of giving India a bright start would be on the Mumbai batsman.
Rohit, who scored 333 runs in 17 games in the IPL, said international players have now become accustomed to adapting to different conditions.
“It has happened for 10 years - players going on to play Test cricket or 50 over games after IPL. I don’t think it’s going to be difficult to adapt in this age. All it needs is to develop the mindset,” he said.
Rohit, who led Mumbai to an unprecedented third IPL title after topping the standings, said that captaincy had helped him become a better player as he likes to play an inspirational role to his teammates.
“It (captaincy) does help me a lot. Last year, we had a tough time and could not qualify for the play-offs, but we knew we had the players to do well this year and they delivered. The attitude of the players remained the same whether we won or lost. As captain I love to inspire teams as much as I can,” he said.