Mumbai: He has been one of India’s most dependable batsman in ODIs and Rohit Sharma feels that outgoing captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to make him open the batting in 50-over format was a ‘career-changing move’.
“I believe the decision to open in ODIs changed my career and it was a decision taken by MS Dhoni. I became a better batsman after that. In fact it helped me understand my game better, react better according to situations,” Rohit said
He first opened in early 2013 against England during the home series, scoring 80 odd runs and followed that up with a steady show in the Champions Trophy. So does he remember how he was approached, Rohit recollects it was in customary MSD style – in a very matter of fact manner.
“Dhoni just came up to me and said ‘I want you to open the innings as I am confident that you will do well. Since you can play both cut and pull shot well, you have the qualities to succeed as an opener’,” Rohit said.
“He told me that I shouldn’t be scared of failures or get upset by criticism. He was looking at the bigger picture as the Champions Trophy was scheduled in England that year.”
According to Rohit, Dhoni’s reading of a player’s ability is peerless.
“The Champions Trophy in England made me confident that I can open and ready to face challenges of playing white ball in English conditions in the morning.
“I got 65 against South Africa, who had Morne Morkel, Ryan McLaren, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rory Kleinveldt. Morne and McLaren were hitting three quarter length and Tsotsobe was swinging it. The skipper was confident that I could handle the situation and I did,” the world record holder for highest individual score in ODIs, said.
“With no disrespect to other great Indian captains, I was blessed to play under MS all these years. His calmness in pressure situations helped us. He always led from the front. There won’t be one like him.”
Rohit is recuperating from a thigh surgery after having sustained a muscle injury during the New Zealand ODIs. He is disappointed but takes it in his stride.
“You can’t do anything about it and I have been in situations like this before. What disappointed me was the fact that the injury happened just when I was in rhythm scoring three successive 50s against New Zealand in Test matches. The pitches against England were good batting strips and it would have been enjoyable,” he lamented.
Karun Nair hit a triple hundred against England. Does it make him insecure that he would have to fight with Karun once he is back from injury?
“I have never ever been an insecure person and the reason being I know how to move on in life. What would have happened if I wouldnâ€™t have got injured is irrelevant. The fact is Karun got his chance and played brilliantly and should be applauded. In fact, I saw a bit of it when Karun and KL (Rahul) were batting. It was top quality stuff,” the senior pro lavished praise on the youngsters.
“But credit to Ashwin, Shami and Jadeja for bowling brilliantly in the series.”
On personal front, Rohit has completed eight weeks of his rehab since suffering a thigh muscle injury, which required surgery.
“Well, I can’t set an exact date on when I will return to competitive cricket. I am told it would take 12-14 weeks for complete recovery. It means anything between four to six weeks from now,” Rohit informed.