Form finds Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma came into the IPL having recovered from an injury. His lay-off was a few months long and he was eager to get back into the thick of things. This is what he had to say before the start of the Indian Premier League:

“It’s been a long time, been more than five months. I’m looking forward to it (the IPL) and I am waiting to get back on the field. The future looks exciting and I’m excited to start the season on a high.”

While the team is doing well with our fourth win in-a-row, Rohit’s form was a bit of a worry leading into this game. In the first four games, he could accumulate just 9 runs. The skipper came in to bat with our chase in a spot of bother and got his eye in before easing in to playing some of his usual, effortless strokes. He was a happy man at the press conference, both with the team and with himself.

The first question was likely to be about Rohit getting back to form, and it was. Rohit started off jokingly, “I thought you would ask me about the win. Yeah, it’s good to get some runs, I’ve been a bit let down at the start of the tournament. That isn’t the standard I expect out of myself. But, nevertheless, what has gone, has gone. I’m not thinking too much about it and as long as we win it’s good. Today was again a great win. Like I said, it’s good to get some runs and I’m very happy.”

This was our first win against Gujarat Lions and Rohit was asked about how special it was for him and the team. “Any win is important against whichever team we play. Last year is the past and we don’t think about it. This is a fresh year and yes, we played the opposition and not a particular team. The credit goes to everyone to manage a 4th consecutive win. It isn’t easy, especially when we were challenged a bit in terms of conditions. We played a 4 o’clock game in Bangalore and then came here for another 4 o’clock game. With the humidity and the heat, it is not easy, but hats off to all the guys to put their hands up and take up the responsibility.”

The win today was even more special, as the Wankhede was a sea of blue with children from the ‘Education For All’ initiative out in large numbers. Over 18,000 of them watched this clinical chase and Rohit threw some light on what it meant to them. “It means a lot. It’s a great initiative taken up by Mrs. (Nita) Ambani. We started this in 2010 and it’s in its seventh year. To be able to support so many children, I’ve even got the numbers – 100,000, it’s brilliant! Those young kids would probably never get to see the game. To get all of them here and witness such a wonderful game is really nice. Credit goes to Reliance Foundation, and as players, it means a lot to us. When we see something like this coming up, it’s wonderful. So, the credit goes to each and every player for taking up this cause as well.”

The scanner was back on how Rohit got back into form and if he analysed his game after the previous few games. Rohit admitted to where he was going wrong in his usual, humble manner. “It was just a simple mistake, I was just trying to play with the spin. That is what we are taught too. These guys (the bowlers who got him) were bowling googlies and I had to play against the spin. On the first ball, you don’t play against the spin. That is something I was supposed to do there, but I didn’t. It’s a challenging tournament, bowlers will keep challenging you every now and then and you have to be prepared for it. I went back to the drawing board, saw what went wrong and today, I just decided to play straight, and not really in the ‘V’. I know it sounds odd to say – not to play in the V, but that’s how it is now. These days, the game has changed so much. Luckily, they had only one spinner.”

After a few low scores, a lot of talk of Rohit opening the innings made its rounds. He was asked if he considered opening the innings, the way he has in the past for us. The only thing on Rohit’s mind was the benefit of the team. “I would love to open. But, you got to think from the team’s perspective as well. As a captain, I have to think about the team’s balance and me batting at 3 or 4 gives a- balance to the team, which we want. Last year we felt that we wanted someone to bat till the end and finish games. This is one of the reasons I had to take the decision to come down the order. However, I’m open to anything, whatever the team requires. If we see when I have to go and open, I will do it too, I’m not closing my options. Right now, 3 and 4 is the best position.”

Rohit was particularly appreciative of Nitish Rana’s performances, so far in this season. “I’m not going to change the order so much, because the guy at number 3 just got the orange cap as well. You are going to see more of him and he is a fearless batsman. That (number 3) is probably the ideal position for him to bat in.”

Rohit mixed up his bowlers quite regularly in this game and Rohit was quizzed about his strategy on using Malinga earlier than usual. Rohit was forthcoming in sharing the reason behind the move. “When I got him for his third over, he got Brendon McCullum out. That was the reason! We knew that they didn’t have any firepower in the death. So, we wanted to get McCullum’s wicket and it was important to get Malinga back. He has been our strike bowler over the years. So, that is how I think about it. When we have to break a partnership, we have to get Bumrah or Malinga. We have relied a lot on these two over the years. We see team to team as well. Some teams have firepower in the death and we keep him for the death. If we see it in the top 4, we try to finish him off sooner.”

Rohit Sharma has always been someone who you could rely on, in any batting position, be it for us, or for the Indian team. He has succeeded in most positions he has batted in. The balance of the team has been different from what it was last year. With Buttler and Parthiv opening, we have our dangerous skipper coming in to finish off the innings. With our fourth consecutive win, our team is in the right space and are sitting on top of the points table as well. Whatever combination we go in with for our remainder of our matches, the only hope would be to keep our good run going throughout the league phase of the IPL.



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