London: It’s not the big hundreds but pulling off chases for his team gives more joy to Rohit Sharma, who says he is now experienced enough to do it consistently for India.
The same batting approach was on display in India’s tricky yet successful chase against South Africa and skipper Virat Kohli had rated his unbeaten 122-run knock as his best “ODI innings”.
So is it the vice-captaincy that has brought about this change?
“I think I have played more than 200-odd games now. If I don’t do it now, then when,” the Indian vice-captain gave a cheeky reply.
The experience of 207 matches is now paying off, he feels.
“Experience teaches you a lot of things. That is something that has come into my game of late. Because you start the innings for your team, you want to make sure that you finish off the innings, as well. That gives you immense pleasure.
“And when I did that in the first game, the satisfaction you get finishing the job is something else, rather than scoring a hundred and not finishing off the game,” said the man, who now has 23 ODI hundreds to his name.
Talk about being in that ‘elite ‘list’ which reads Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma as the top three century makers in ODIs and Rohit says he will happily accept milestones but contributing in team’s win will always be his main mission.
“Personally, I don’t look into all of that. The journey will continue, and those milestones (will come). I just want to make sure that as many games as I play, I make my team win in as many games as possible. That’s the sole and whole job of me as a batsman. Yeah, along the way, you get rewards. I will take it any day.”
When he started opening consistently from the 2013 Champions Trophy (having opened against England in an ODI in Ranchi earlier that year), it was a challenge but clear understanding of his own game helped him achieve what he has got today.
“I have come a long way since then and it’s through the hard work and understanding that I can deliver as a batsman and that is what I have focused on.”
Playing as per the demands of conditions in a particular country is something that the 2013 Champions Trophy taught him.
“How you can play and how you can’t play, in India, in Australia, in England, South Africa, New Zealand, whichever place you go to, that is something that I’ve understood. How you need to bat on certain given conditions and realizing the fact that also how important it is for one of your top orders to bat all the way through,” the stylish Mumbaikar said.
“So those are the things I’ve calculated and I’ve brought into my game, which has probably given me success.”
But once erstwhile skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni believed in his abilities, it was for the player to have that self belief and Rohit had that aplenty.
“Self-belief is something that I guess has played a crucial part in this five to six years, because if I wouldn’t have believed that I can open and do well, I probably wouldn’t have been doing it so successfully.”
Former Australia captain and assistant coach Ricky Ponting has suggested the Indian seamers will take a cue from the West Indies pacemen, who troubled the Australian batsmen with a barrage of bouncers.
But Sharma said India’s bowlers would have to keep the batsmen guessing.
“See, short ball for any batsman is not easy, even the best guy who can pull the ball, who can hook the ball will find it difficult,” said Sharma.
“Probably we have the bowling attack to do that... But you don’t want to be carried away with that. We've got to understand the conditions and make sure that you keep the batsmen guessing all the time,” the father-of-one said....