The words that best describe this right-handed batman are gutsy, compliant and composed. Riding high on the victory against Australia on their soil, this on-field charmer blew everyone off their seats with his excellent performance in the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL). And now, he clinched yet another ODI berth in Bangladesh tri-series with his consistent show. He’s none other than Rohit Sharma and he surely knows how to make his way through all the odds.
In an interview with Preeti Hoon , Rohit confesses his expectations for the tri-series spot, talks about IPL experience and his unfulfilled wish to play for India in Tests.
Congratulations for your selection for the Bangladesh tri-series. Were you expecting it?
(Smiles) Yes, obviously I was expecting it. I recently performed well in Australia and also in IPL, I knew I will get through.
But are you fit for the Bangladesh tour?
Yes, I had some injury but it’s now better. I got hit on my nail during one of the IPL games so I didn’t play the last game. I am totally fit and perfectly fine now.
What does playing against Pakistan mean to you? Do you feel that fans have started losing interest in Indo-Pak matches?
India-Pakistan has always been a great contest. If you do well against Pakistan, your confidence level goes up. As everyone knows India-Pakistan is a very popular series. When we play against them, they will come hard at us and of course we will go hard at them. Even if you look at county format, people coming from different states, countries coming and playing together and obviously after that they go back and play for their own country. It’s nothing new now, everybody is used to it.
You are a part of Bangladesh tri-series squad but is getting into Test squad a priority for you?
ODIs are very important but Test cricket is the ultimate thing for me. I am just trying my best but I know it will not be easy for me I need to work hard. I am concentrating on certain areas, hopefully if I get those things right, I will be in the team. If you do well in domestic games, you will be considered. Ranji Trophy will be very important, being consistent there would certainly get me a Test spot.
What do you think of MS Dhoni as a captain?
He’s great yaar (smiles). Everyone knows about him now. I don’t think I need to speak anything about him but especially for the youngsters he’s really good. He backs everyone. As a youngster when you get into the team you look forward to your captain. It was great watching him. He was right behind all of us.
Do you have plans to tackle bowlers like Sohail Tanvir?
No not really, I have played him in IPL so I know what kind of bowler he is. Even in T20 World Cup and when they were in India. I know what kind of length they bowl. Certainly I have some things in my mind but I don’t plan my batting before, I just go in the middle and bat with my natural ability.
What do you think about Sohail Tanvir’s bowling action?
At times I just get confused what kind of delivery he’s going to bowl. He’s distracting and confusing.
You make your batting look very simple, how have you prepared for the tri-series?
I will just concentrate on my basics in the game rather than focusing on different aspects. Whatever I did recently in Australian tour, I’ll try to continue that. Like I said, I just need to focus on being consistent.Yusuf Pathan and Pragyan Ojha got a national call after their impressive performance in IPL. Does T20 experience help in ODIs?
Yusuf and Pragyan have been doing well in domestic circuit as well. I feel they deserved the chance. They were consistent enough and they had a good show in IPL and they got the call.
How was the IPL experience?
It was good. Playing with all the foreign players and sharing their experiences was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Do you think that IPL has happened at the right time for you?
Yes it has, but other formats like Ranji Trophy will remain at its own status because in India, it is rated as a very popular status. IPL is an exciting format and whatever format I’ll be playing I will aim to do well. But as I said, I did well in last Australian tour and I knew I will be there in the team but you cannot take anything for granted. You need to keep performing, that’s the criteria.
Despite your splendid batting performance, Deccan Chargers kept on losing games. Was that frustrating?
Yes obviously, nobody wants to be on the losing side, it was disappointing. But I personally enjoyed my experience with Deccan Chargers. I know we didn’t do well as a team. But there’s plenty more that we can do next year, we have some plans. Just trying to work, even the franchisee must be thinking over it. I’m sure next year our team would be something different.
Where do you think your team lacked, which Team Jaipur or Mohali didn’t?
I think Rajasthan Royals and Yuvi’s team players were clicking at the right time. Though I performed well, an individual cannot win you every game. We didn’t click as a unit throughout the tournament. I think that was the biggest disappointment. Everyone in Royals was performing at the right time.
Deccan Chargers were the favourites for the IPL title due to its strong line-up. What went wrong?
Before the start of the IPL, everyone was judging as per the team on paper. But as everyone knows, cricket is not played on paper, it has to be on the ground and one has to deliver. I think that was the problem.
Do you think you were in the wrong IPL team?
It’s not up to me to be in Mumbai or Hyderabad team. As a cricketer, I have to do well, I have to give my 100 per cent. Since it was the first year we didn’t have much idea, no one expected that we will be at the bottom of the table. But as I said, we are planning some things now, hopefully it will work out next year. Next year will be different.
Andrew Symonds showed you some fielding tricks. Did that help you improve your skills?
Yes, Symonds and Gibbs both gave me fielding tricks. Nothing big but they just told me about the basics. They asked me to do my basics right whether it’s fielding, bowling or batting. I was also under Robin Singh, it was a great experience working with them. They are world class fielders.
How did it feel to share the same dressing room with foreign players?
When we play against each other as teams, sledging is bound to happen. But they were very much friendly; I was not expecting this from them. They helped all the team-mates. I know Gilchrist for a long time, I have heard about him a lot. He plays from his heart. There’s nothing much happening in the dressing room but we kept playing music and danced after we won. But not when we lost (smiles).
Jayawardene, Glchrist, Gibbs find you an exciting Indian talent. How does it feel to be praised by them?
They are the masters of cricket. They know what each individual does. If they have recognized me as a good player, so obviously it feels great. I just need to keep up my consistency level. I need to do well in the coming games. People must be expecting more out of me now.
Did you expect controversy-ridden IPL? Your take on the controversies.
Yes I was expecting as all the foreign players were playing. They are more aggressive than Indian players. But more surprising thing was it happened between Indians (Harbhajan-Sreesanth slapgate). It was really surprising (smiles). IPL is a fun kind of format. I don’t have any problems with cheerleaders, they don’t distract me. They are doing their job and we need to focus on our game rather than focusing on them. And about Shoaib Akhtar, I have nothing to say as neither I’m a part of Pakistan team nor Kolkata Knight Riders. I just want to stay away from all these things.
What did you learn from your IPL coach Robin Singh?
Everyone wants to be consistent and that’s what he told me to be in whatever I do. He’s the fielding coach and I worked out with him. He asked me to keep things simple and enjoy the game.
Shane Warne has shown interest in being the bowling coach for India. What do you think of that?
It will be great for Indian cricket. He’s a legendary bowler.
Any advice for the emerging talent like – Gony and Asnodkar?
(Laughs) No, nothing I’m still young in the game. I’m in the learning process. At the moment, I cannot advise anyone. Ultimate goal should be doing well, one or two tournaments would not get you a ODI or Test spot. They did well in IPL, so I feel the next thing for them would be Ranji Trophy. If they do well there, they might have further chances.
What did you family and friends think about your IPL success?
They always wanted me to be a successful cricketer. But still I feel it’s just the start of my career now I have got good momentum to my career now so I just need to capitalize and If I keep doing well obviously I will be considered.
Have you been able to buy your dream car – BMW from the IPL money you have earned? And what about your investment plans?
I have booked it, it will be coming soon. Thinking to invest somewhere, property in Mumbai is getting bigger and bigger.
(Originally published in Times of India)