Mumbai: Taking over as the leader from a two-time World Cup-winning captain such as Ricky Ponting can never be easy, especially with the weight of expectations that come along with it.
At 25 years of age, Rohit Sharma was asked to captain the Mumbai Indians side that had veterans such as Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Lasith Malinga in their squad.
Rohit led Mumbai to their first IPL triumph that year and underlined his arrival as captain with winning the Champions League T20 later that year.
In the 10 IPL seasons so far, Rohit has led his franchise to three championships — the most — in the competition.
Rohit spoke to Firstpost about how he enjoys leading the team and his process of achieving success as a T20 captain.
In the 90 T20 matches that Rohit has stepped out as a captain, be it in national colours or in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Mumbai Indians, he enjoys a success rate of 63.33 per cent with 57 wins, 32 losses and 1 tie.
Rohit is only behind Shoaib Malik with 64.36 success rate, Misbah-ul-Haq is at number three with 61.61 per cent followed by MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir at 58.51 and 58.43 per cent respectively.
The right-handed batsman has led India in the absence of Virat Kohli, having won a bilateral series against Sri Lanka in 2017 and then claiming the Nidahas Trophy that included Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
“Captaincy is all about managing your players, their expectations, liking, disliking and then it comes to strategies and planning. I look into those things lot more. It is not impossible to achieve (success) without planning and strategies, but I like to be prepared. When you're on the field it is instinctive because things move very quickly. You have make decisions on what is happening in the game and I try and do that. Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn't. Everything is a part of learning and I am still learning as a captain," said the 30-year old.
"I have had some great captains in the past who I have played under and I have taken a huge leaf out of their books. I am enjoying it now and feels good and it is nice to be in that shoe," said the three time IPL winning captain.
Mumbai Indians didn’t start the current edition on the right note after losing against the Chennai Super Kings from a comfortable position.
“Everybody saw what happened. Certain things we didn't do right in the pressure overs. We were in the game till the 17th over. It was only in the last three overs the game drifted away from us. Always difficult to contain set batsmen at Wankhede and with the dew it is very hard for the bowlers. It is not an excuse, just saying what happened on that day,” said Rohit.
The Mumbai Indians captain was not too bothered by the defeat in the first match and despite Jasprit Bumrah not getting it right in the death overs, he backed the bowler by stressing that Bumrah was still their best bowler.
"He is a very strong character and games like these teach you as an individual. He has played enough to know how to come back from such situations. He is aware of his responsibilities. He wants to take it up as a challenge. Games like this will happen but again, he will still be our best bowler," MI skipper told reporters after launching Adidas’ footwear ‘AlphaBounce’.
"Bumrah is one of the highest rated Indian death bowler. Anyone can have a bad day. It is not the end of the world," he added.
Rohit quipped that Mumbai have lost the first game and went on to lift the title and hopes it will be the same this year as well.
One of the biggest positives for Mumbai Indians from the opening game was in young leg-spinner, Mayank Markande, who impressed everybody bagging three wickets in his debut match.
“I played him in the nets a few times and leg-spinner gives you a wicket-taking option in the middle and that's exactly what happened.He has got great control of whatever he does, so, I think going forward he will be a great weapon for us. For us, me and Mahela (Jayawardene), as captain and coach, we just have to support him,” said Rohit while explaining the rationale behind greenhorn Markande’s selection.
Stats provided by Umang Pabari