Pallekele: Rohit Sharma is hugely honoured at being appointed vice-captain of the Indian ODI team after an "up and down 10 years" of international cricket, where he is yet to cement a spot in the Test eleven.
The opener did not get to play in the Test series and is keen to make amends in the five-match ODI series starting on Sunday.
"Firstly, it is a huge honour to be appointed as the vice-captain. Ten years ago, I was only thinking of playing for India. Being the vice-captain now feels really, really good," Sharma said on Wednesday.
"It's a kind of honour that whenever the opportunity comes, the first one-dayer when we come on 20 August, there will be some sort of role that I will need to play and I am looking forward to it. I am not thinking too much about it. I just want to enjoy the moment as of now."
Sharma is used to take additional responsibility on the field, having captained Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League to three titles.
When asked to about compare his IPL and the newly assigned role with the Indian team, Sharma replied, "It's a different ball game completely. IPL and when you come and play international cricket, it is completely different. But again, the excitement and the energy level is the same.
"So yes, nothing changes too much. I am the vice-captain here, there I was the captain, and so I was more in front. Here I have to play a little behind-the-scene role. But yes, I will be very excited to step on to the field as the vice- captain."
Sharma also reflected on what has been a roller-coaster ride in international cricket so far. He has been unable to cement a spot in the first-choice Test eleven, but only wants to look ahead to what is the second half of the tour.
"Firstly, it's gone very fast, those ten years. Yes, there has been ups and downs but that's how it is for any sportsman, and that's how it should be. You get to learn a lot more from ups and downs.
"I always wait for this opportunity, whenever I get this opportunity, to play for India, whichever format it is. Before those ten years, I never thought I would play for India.
"I was just enjoying my cricket, playing for my school, for Mumbai and yes, once I realised that cricket is getting tougher and tougher. When I started playing Ranji Trophy, I realised that I have that goal where I can look at. And once I was picked up for Indian team, there was no looking back from then," he said.
He has spent more than a decade in international cricket but Sharma still treats everyday as a new day.
"Today I got to learn playing those sweeps and reverse sweeps when someone like Lasith Malinga comes and bowls to you. So everyday you enter the field you go on to learn something new.
"There were so many things in ten years I have learnt. Especially in limited overs format initially when I came in, I sort of used to play too many shots at once and now I have realised that it cannot be going out and just slogging every time.
"You got to understand the situation, the conditions and that's what I have learnt over these years with so many coaches around. I will still continue to learn and that is the greatest part of this sport, that you learn everyday and there is something to look forward to every day," he said.
The batsman sat out of the Test series and was forced to watch from the sidelines as India opted to play with five full-time bowlers.
It was not a good feeling, said Sharma.
"Nobody likes to sit out. But again, it all depends on the team dynamics, what the captain and the coach wants to play. And you got to accept the fact and move forward.
"I kept working on my skills, my ability, wherever I need to work on and see where I can improve as a cricketer. You cannot sit here and waste time.
"All I was trying to do these past 3-4 weeks was just to improve my skills, see where things are going wrong and try and strengthen the strengths I have."
The fact that he has scored a world record ODI high- score of 264 against Sri Lanka in 2014-15 should help bolster his spirits.
The batsman was one among three players, along with KL Rahul and Axar Patel, who took part in optional nets at Pallekele on Wednesday.
"I have had some good times against Sri Lanka and at the same time I have had some terrible times against Sri Lanka in 2012, which I clearly remember and it is something that happens in sport.
"I have played these guys so many times now, we have come to Sri Lanka many times and we understand the conditions well. You know the kind of cricket you want to play, and the opposition, and the kind of bowling dynamics they have. We played these guys a lot many times and that will help.
"I am not thinking about any particular thing, but yes it will always be at the back of my mind that I scored some runs against these guys," said Sharma.
Though India beat Sri Lanka comprehensively the Test series, Sharma warned that it will not be easy against them in the 50-over format.
"I have no idea about their squad for this ODI series but what they had in the Champions Trophy was a very good side. They beat us quite comfortably. Chasing 320 was never going to be easy especially in those conditions but they came out and batted fearlessly and took the game away from us.
"So you know in one-day cricket they are a very good team. We have just got to do what we have been doing for the past few years. We got to stick to our strengths and play good cricket," concluded Sharma.