Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Rohit Sharma says he wants to be part of India's No.1 Test team

Having taken his time to settle down with the bat at the international level, 29-year-old Rohit Sharma has come a long way so far, especially in limited overs cricket. While the red ball may have eluded his bat vis--vis the white one, his ability to score in the shorter formats alone earned him the Ceat 'Indian Cricketer of the Year' award on Monday . Excerpts from an interview with Times of India
Rohit Sharma is excited about the prospect of playing a day-night Test

How does it feel to be voted the ODI Cricketer of the Year'?
It's nice to have won awards along the way but it doesn't put me under pressure. I don't go out on the field thinking that I want to be ODI or Test cricketer of the year. What motivates me is to win matches for my team and keep performing. Having said that, it's a nice feeling to have won this award and see your performance recognised.
What was the turning point in your ODI cricket? Opening or the MI captaincy in 2013?
Opening the batting definitely helped me change my batting. It gives you more time, responsibility. I never thought I'll open the batting for India some day. I had opened for my school and college teams, but never for Mumbai. But my teammates and the team management believed that I have the technique to handle the new ball. They showed a lot of trust. When you get that, it gives you the motivation too. The team felt that I should be top of the order and I said 'Ok, if they feel so, I should take it as a challenge.' More than technique, I had to work on the mental aspect of my game too. Especially when you play outside India, it isn't easy, because the conditions are different. You've got to counter those challenges. So, mentally I started to train myself. And then everything started to fall in place. In my first stint as an opener, we won the Champions Trophy. I kept backing myself that I can do it. Then, I scored the double hundred against Australia.
Which is your favourite knock? 209 against Australia (2013) or 264 vs Sri Lanka (2015)?
It's difficult to single out any particular knock, because both my double hundreds came in a winning cause. I cannot pick one because double hundreds aren't scored every time in an ODI. 209 was my first double hundred, and came in a decider against Australia and 264 was a world record and in my first game after suffering a finger injury. To come out after a finger injury is never easy. I was just working on my rehab and fitness and little bit of cricketing skills. It's special because I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to hold the bat with the same power again. I was so nervous about it in the night before the game that I was thinking about how I'd bat, what would be my game plan? Would the finger affect my performance or strokeplay? But, on the match day, I went with an open mind, without thinking that I was injured for the last three months. The moment I played my first ball, I stopped thinking about my finger. I was focused on the bowling.
You were in great form going into the T20 WC, but then suffered a dip ...
It's sad but things like these happen. You'll have tours where you'd not be that effective. But, I've learnt this in eight years that you've to take things in your stride and move forward. I understand that my form was crucial for us. Every time I went, I was only trying to do my best and give whatever I have. When you're opening, the team expects certain things from you, like giving a solid start and put pressure on the bowlers from ball one. I was only trying to do that. I just wanted to lay the platform for our solid middle-order. I thought I was being extra-positive, which was a mistake. But again, I back my game. That's how I approach cricket and if it doesn't come off, I don't want to get disappointed and put myself down. It's fine. We've allotted certain roles to certain players. Throughout the tournament, we played well. It's just that we were unlucky in Mumbai, where things didn't go our way. 192 was a competitive score on that track. We were one of the strongest bowling sides in the tournament.
Virat Kohli has been in tremendous form. Is he the best batsman in world cricket right now?
Ravi Shastri put it aptly when he said it's only going to benefit Indian cricket. I can't say if he's the best in the world right now. There a lot of guys playing well and he's obviously among them. I hate comparisons, because is not fair. People do it because it's fun for them to do so. Everyone plays differently, bats in a different position. But yes, he's right up there.
You kicked off your Test career with back-to-back hundreds. What happened after that?
If I'd have known what happened, I wouldn't have been in this situation for sure. Yes, there's been a lack of form since then. But again, I'm the sort who doesn't dwell on the past, because the future is bright. We've got so many games coming up. I believe in certain things and one of them is: "What's happened has happened. You can't change it. There's no way I can go back to the 16 Tests I've played and change anything. I can only look at the footage of what mistakes I've made and learn from that. That's what I try and do. I'm not here to please anyone. I'm here to play my cricket and make a contribution to team India. If X,Y, Z is not happy with my performance, they can be unhappy. That's fine. I'm not going to change because they feel I need to change. I seriously don't feel that way .
The team management backed you to succeed in Test cricket...
It's very hard to explain when people don't know... when we're inside that circle where the management thinks about selection in a certain way. If somebody fits into the XI, then he fits there. If they want to play five bowlers, a batsman will miss out, if they want to play six batsmen, a bowler will miss out. Backing and all that will keep happening, but it's too early now. I've just played 16 Tests. People are already commenting about my Test career...taking it to another level. It's fine. I'm not averaging 15 or 20, I'm still averaging 35! I don't know why people talk so much about my Test career. If it happens, it does, if it doesn't, it doesn't. There's no need to get frustrated or worried about it.
Are you looking forward to the possibility of a day-night Test match?
Oh that would be great! We're all looking forward to it. I don't know how it'll pan out eventually. It will be good to play under lights, but we before we play it, we need to get used to it. We've played a lot of cricket with the white ball, but pink ball will be different. It'll be exciting for people to watch. Let's see how it pans out.
India are looking for a new coach. There've been reports that the team is happy to continue with Ravi Shastri...
These decisions aren't in my control. Under Ravi Shastri, we had good fun and success. He understood us well, because before joining the team he was watching us play, so he understands where the guys are going. He knows exactly how each one of us wants to prepare, and he gives us the freedom to do so. I'm sure whatever decision the BCCI takes, it will be in the best interests of the team.
MI failed to make the playoffs this time...
We were inconsistent, which cost us big time. We have to accept the fact that we didn't play the way we were expected to. A lot of things didn't fall in place for us. Players need to keep performing consistently. It is something we need to focus on next year. Every individual knows that he needs to perform when given an opportunity. We were only good in patches. Hyderabad Sunrisers won the tournament because they were consistent in all the departments. If you want to win the tournament, you want guys to chip in at crucial times, which didn't happen with us.
How is Ricky Ponting as a coach?
He is just like how he played his cricket ­ focused and stern.
SOURCE: Times of India

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