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MI skipper talks about maiden, successful captaincy stint in IPL
By Harsh Kalan
Kolkata 27 May 2013
Rohit Sharma’s leadership was one of the cornerstones of Mumbai Indians’ successful IPL 2013 campaign. The stylish batsman was handed the captaincy in the early stages of the season, and far from buckling under pressure he managed to make the most of the opportunity on offer.
Along the way, the 26-year-old was ably guided and backed by experienced MI players, coaches and support staff. In an exclusive interview with IPLT20.com, Rohit Sharma speaks of how all the pieces fell in place for the IPL 2013 champions under his leadership.
On the finals and what it meant to him
The way we performed shows the character of the team. It was not an easy victory and I am really happy. I would like to thank each and everyone as we stuck it out. This is for the people of Mumbai who have been coming and supporting us over five years. And, of course, it’s also for the fans of Mumbai Indians across the globe.
On winning with his hometown team
It is simply amazing to win the IPL title with Mumbai, my hometown. I have no words to describe this feeling. I am happy because our owners are really passionate about this game and they wanted us to win. They helped us in all possible ways. I would like to dedicate this victory to them.
On stepping into the role of captain
It was tough when we changed our captain. It was not easy to come in suddenly to do the job. But I have really enjoyed this role since the moment Ricky stepped down and I was handed the captaincy. I knew the responsibility would fall on my shoulders since I was vice captain for two years.
On the backing he received from his seniors
The support from Ricky Ponting from beyond the boundary was superb. And it was not just Ricky Ponting, but everybody else as well. Right from John Wright to our masseur… they were really fantastic. I would like to mention Robin Singh as he has been working day in and day out with all of us. Anil Kumble was brilliant and so was our support staff. We just stuck together as a team, which is really important in this format.
On Sachin Tendulkar finally winning the elusive IPL title
Yes, this was the only trophy he did not have. Now he is happy. You could see how excited he was when we won. That shows what this win means to him.
On MI’s successful run at the Eden Gardens
We have always done well in Kolkata. We have had an outstanding record here over the last six years. Plus, the people of Kolkata are really amazing. They have been supporting us. Even when we play against KKR, we get some support.
On his own form this season
I am happy with my overall form, but I am a little bit disappointed with my performance in the Playoffs. But it happens sometimes. I was focusing on getting my team in shape for this challenge.
For a generation of cricket lovers the name ‘Jonty Rhodes’ is synonymous with the art of fielding. After all, not many cricketers can claim to have won an ODI Man of the Match award just for their performance on the field.
Now, the legendary South African fielder teaches the tricks of his trade to the mélange of players from all over the world in the Mumbai Indians camp.
In a chat with IPLT20.com after MI’s first IPL title victory, Rhodes credited the league for lifting the standard of fielding several notches.
Finally an IPL title under your belt!
Yes! We were in the final in 2010 and lost to CSK. So it is nice to turn it around this time. We’ve had some ups and downs and disappointments but we’ve finally got our first IPL title. We won the CLT20 two years ago and it is nice to add an IPL Trophy to that.
Would you say that this is the best MI has played in an entire season as compared to the previous ones?
Yes, 11 wins out of 16 league matches is not bad. Two or three games that we lost were such that we should have won. I think overall this has been a consolidated team effort. At the start of the season Dinesh Karthik played very well, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu chipped in, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith too had their contributions. We had Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga; Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh bowled really well. Our fielding performance has been amazing and so has the batting. So, an all round, great team effort.
The bowling in particular stepped up when it mattered most, didn’t it?
Yes, I think batting second in the final is difficult. We experienced that in 2010 against CSK when we couldn’t get past a chaseable total. A final does funny things to guys. No matter how many times you’ve been there, it’s a matter of trying to get the job done on that day. CSK have a very good batting lineup and the key for us was to keep taking wickets. I don’t think CSK panicked at all. They just got some very good bowling – Malinga’s and Mitch’s first overs were brilliant.
How happy are you as the team’s fielding coach?
It was the beauty of this tournament. Pollard kept taking those brilliant catches for us. He caught MS Dhoni on the boundary in our first game. Against Kings XI Punjab he caught Shaun Marsh one-handed. But it hasn’t just been the international players – Ambati Rayudu did well, Rishi Dhawan, on his debut, took two great catches. Even Ojha, who is not the fastest guy on the field and he’d be the first one to admit it. Everybody has backed it up. As the fielding coach that’s all I want. I am not expecting 11 Ricky Pontings. If Malinga to Bhajji to Rayudu are doing their best, that’s all I can ask for.
Overall, do you think the standard of fielding went really high this year?
Oh, it a real asset what the IPL has done. If you look at the most stunning catches this season, it’s not only the international players but young Indian players who are coming through. Look at the CSK team –I watch them in marvel. I told Suresh Raina that I love watching him play. He’s so busy in the field. Jadeja with his arm, Virat Kohli, who affected two direct hits against us in Mumbai – these Indian guys have a great future ahead of them and the standard of fielding through out has improved and the IPL has done that.
In a long tournament like this, is it possible to pick one match or moment that changed things around for the team?
I think for us it came here in Kolkata, against the Kolkata Knight Riders. We had lost two on the road, against DD and RR, and coming here, we chased down 160 on a typical Eden Gardens wicket. I think that really turned things around for us because it was a win away from home against the odds when we needed one desperately to get back our campaign back on track. Guys speak about different moments but for me that game stood out.