The Mumbai Indians may be favourites to retain their IPL title under captain Rohit Sharma, who said that the key this season could be getting the team combination right and having the new-look side gel together. In a chat with The Indian Express, Sharma spoke on IPL, his batting, the defeat in the final of the World T20 and why Yuvraj Singh should not be blamed for it. Excerpts:
The IPL will be played in two legs (first in Dubai and then in India). What kind of challenges will it pose?
More than the playing conditions, what will be the key for most of the teams is how quickly every player gels with the other. After the auction, the teams have many new members and it will be a challenge for them to perform as a group. If the atmosphere in the dressing room is friendly and positive, then it is reflected on the field. Right combinations will be the key to success. These will be challenging two months ahead.
The Mumbai Indians have managed to retain most of the players from the previous seasons. Will that be an advantage?
Except Mitchell Johnson and Dwayne Smith, we have pretty much the same side. We wanted to buy Johnson and used the joker card too but sadly it couldn’t happen. However, the core players still remain the same; plus, we have Michael Hussey and Zaheer Khan, who bring a lot of experience. So picking the right combination will be important for us. On a personal note, I’m looking forward to learn from Hussey how he manages to be so consistent.
How much will Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting’s absence affect MI?
I’m going to miss them for sure. When I was leading last season, there were two people in the dressing room who we all looked up to. Having Tendulkar and Ponting in the side meant we had knowledge and experience of world cricket. Now when you look back at it, there were enough indications that they might not play for us next season. If you see, Ponting decided to step down from captaincy last season after leading for few games and later Tendulkar did not play the final league games.They made sure that the positive energy stayed throughout the season. We still have Anil Kumble and John Wright and they are working very hard behind the scenes.
How has the last year been for you?
The IPL captaincy gave me lot of confidence and it helped me when I played international cricket. I had a good home series but the tours of South Africa and New Zealand did not go as expected. Test cricket is very different and I realised it post South continued…