With 526 runs at 47.81,Rohit Sharma has set this edition of the IPL alight. Rohit also stands second on the six-hitters list with 28,behind only Chris Gayle,and has captained Mumbai to eight wins in 10 matches since taking over from Ricky Ponting. As he prepares for his teams qualifier,Rohit speaks to The Indian Express about leading a star-studded team,his consistency with the bat and the influence of old-hands. Excerpts:
How have you approached your first captaincy stint in the IPL?
I like to keep things simple and trust my instinct. We have so many guys who have led their teams in international cricket and theyre always there for me with advice and support. I get inputs from all of them but the final decisions are left to me. I believe in giving each player his space. My job is more to do with man management,They are professionals,and I bank on them to execute the plans and strategies that I come up with.
How has the experience of handling players like Tendulkar been for you?
Paaji realizes the kind of pressure Im under as captain and gives me my space. So theres not much handling required. Obviously,when it comes to skills,I am nobody to talk to him. MS Dhoni was in a similar situation when he became captain,and Ive learned a lot from watching him.
When did you find out about the managements decision to promote you as skipper?
I was the vice-captain over the last two years,and was Ricky Pontings deputy. I was mentally prepared to take over in case he got injured. So I wasnt too alarmed when Ricky told me in Kolkata that he was dropping himself and that I had to take over the reins.
Has Ponting inspired you in any way with his presence?
His preparation is of a different level. He told me once that until he faces 100-200 balls in the nets and takes 100-200 catches,he doesnt get proper sleep in the night. Though Im inspired,I can never be a Ponting. Im just trying to inculcate as many good habits as I can from playing alongside these great players.
Youve been enjoying IPL VI as far as your batting is concerned too?
There is responsibility on me to handle the middle-order and at the same time I also have to ensure that Im batting for a major part of the 20 overs. Captaincy has doubled the onus on me to guide the innings. And Ive been focused on leading from the front.
Are you eyeing any specific batting position for the Champions Trophy?
I opened the last time I played ODIs but it will depend on what the team is thinking and things will only be clear once we reach England.
How badly affected are you as a cricketer by the spot-fixing scandal?
It was shocking for all us. We never expected this. But we are not letting it bother us much,and focussing on what is most important for us right now,our playoff qualifier. We have spoken about it and dont want to think about it any more.