Opener Rohit Sharma considers every series as if it is the first game of his career in order to start afresh without the pressure of past games, which allows him to perform better. Rohit is thrilled to play the first match in Mumbai and stated that the strategies won't change much.
In 2013, when the selectors had to take the hard call of excluding Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir from the team owing to their bad form, MS Dhoni decided to send Rohit Sharma as an opener in the home series against England in 2013, which reaped rich dividends as Rohit showcased amazing consistency to make the spot his own. As the opener for India, the Mumbaikar has taken his One-day international career to another level since then by amassing 4066 runs in 83 innings at an average of 54.21 with a strike rate of almost 90, as compared to 1967 runs in 79 innings at 31.72 and a strike rate of 78.58 at other positions.
“The last few years have been really good. When I started opening the innings, I spoke about being consistent at the top because it’s very important, looking from the team’s perspective, that the top few players stay consistent in their performance to get the team to a good position all the time. So I think in that space, I am quite happy right now. But the hunger will never go,” said Rohit Sharma, as reported by Wisden India.
In the upcoming home series against New Zealand, the opener is going to get yet another opportunity to strengthen his stunning record at the top of the order, starting with the first ODI on Sunday at the Wankhede Stadium. He was the highest run-getter against Australia in India’s last ODI series but wants to start this series afresh.
"You will take every series as an opportunity and perform the same. For me, every series I play, I feel it’s the first game of my career. That’s the kind of pressure that comes with the sport that you never feel that you have played x-y-z amount of matches. You start fresh, and that’s the hallmark of the greatest players that we have seen over the years: that they have always started every innings, match, or tour afresh."
“What has happened in the past has happened in the past. If you stay in the present, only then you can continue to perform well and be consistent. So, for me as well, the next few months or years will be the same. I have got onto the train I wanted to, and now I don’t want to get down. I want to keep going.”
The opening game of the series against New Zealand will be on Rohit’s home ground, Mumbai, which will add extra meaning to the match for the recently appointed vice-captain of the side.
“It’s always special coming and playing in front of your home crowd where you grew up playing all your age-group cricket. It makes you feel good about yourself. No better way to start the series than at your home ground.”
India played their last international game on October 13 and Rohit considers this small gap between the series would work in India’s favour, with players all geared up to start another series.
“Every opposition who comes here and plays, have their own strengths and weaknesses. The challenge for us will be to adapt to that opposition quickly. We would like to continue from where we left against Australia. The good thing is that there has hardly been any time between the Australia series and the New Zealand series. The guys are in their groove and I hope we put up the same performance as we did in the last series against Australia.”
Also, Rohit appreciated Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, the two wrist spinners, who are performing consistently and exceptionally well in the middle overs, and stated that they would grow with the more games they would play.
“They (Kuldeep and Chahal) have definitely grown as spinners. From the last time, when they made their way into the team till now, I think there has been an immense improvement in their confidence. They just go out there and do their thing and they are not afraid to do the tactical changes to flight the ball, try and go for the wickets which
“For us as a team, we really rely on those two guys to do the job in the middle overs and they have done exceedingly well in the last series. We saw that it was pretty evident that whenever the ball was given to them they came up with some
Further, as Dhawan is back in the side, the Indian team management once again faces a problem. Ajinkya Rahane opened against Windies in the Caribbean as well as against Australia and was quite successful. But, with both Rohit and Shikhar present in the squad, Rahane might not get a chance to play. On this, Rohit said that the final call will be made by Virat Kohli, the captain, and Ravi Shastri, the coach.
“I have no idea about that where he (Rahane) will be batting. Yes, Shikhar is back. But you know Rahane probably has grabbed all his opportunities in the last few series that he has played. Now it’s up to the captain and the coach,” was Rohit’s take."
“I don’t know if he (Kohli) wants him to bat at No.4 again – that will be completely his call if he feels like we need someone like Rahane in this particular team right now. I don’t know if that will happen, it’s very unclear, we will have to wait and see. But I think whatever limited opportunities he had in the last few series, he has performed really well.”