After securing the Test series 1-0 against Sri Lanka, Team India’s players are now setting themselves up for the limited-overs series, comprising of 3 ODIs and as many T20Is against the same opposition.
Ahead of the series, regular skipper Virat Kohli was given a much-needed rest by the team management to be ready for the all-important South Africa tour. In Kohli's absence, Rohit Sharma has been shouldered with the responsibility to lead the side.
Prior to the first ODI at Dharamsala on Sunday (December 10), stand-in skipper Rohit addressed the media wherein he talked about a range of topics – from leading the Indian cricket team to the new combinations in the middle order and his recent showing in Test cricket. In particular, he talked at length about the growth of India’s ace fast bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, who has been named in the Test squad for upcoming South Africa tour.
"It's a great boost for him to be a part of the Test team. He was looking forward to it, he was for a while wanting to be a part of the Test team. It's all the reward for what he has done in the ODI and T20 formats. Over the last year and so, how he has improved himself, on his bowling and fitness as well...it is a reward for all of those things and it shows. It's a lesson for all those cricketers that if you put in all those hard yards, you will get the result...you will get rewarded. And Bumrah has actually been rewarded for the things that he has done in the past few years," Rohit told reporters on the eve of the first ODI.
"Yes! He has played with me at Mumbai Indians. Every game, every series we've played, he has come up with new strategies, new plans and it's good to see that he has matured as a bowler. He understands what he needs to do and what the team expects out of him. And he is very focused guy, very disciplined in terms of his work ethic and that is what is giving him the results on the field. He had a good month-month and a half time off and he went to NCA and worked on his body again and rejuvenated and he looks a lot fresher now. And hopefully he can do the job for us, the way he was doing in the past," he added.
Rohit, who has led IPL franchise Mumbai Indians to 3 IPL titles, will lead India for the very first time. On being asked about the excitement of leading the national side, Sharma said: “It will be a different ball game all together. but the process and basics of captaincy of leading any team will remain the same. There are different set of players that I had in the IPL team and this is completyely different. Having played with these guys for quite sometime, I do understand their strength and weaknesses. So it will be all about going out and executing and making everybody comfortable. I don’t think I need to change anything, I just need to carry from where we left as a team. For me also, I am not going to change a lot, basics of captaincy will remain the same. I will try to stay in present, something I always try to do while captaining.”
Talking about trying new combinations in the middle order since Kohli won’t be there in the batting line-up, Rohit said: “It is important to give these guys a fair number of games before they prove themselves. I think it is important for them to get number of games and confidence. Guys like Shreyas, Manish, Kedar and DK having gotten number of games on the trot. As a team mnagement, we want to make sure that whoever gets an opportunity, they get n number of games. If they want to try and prove themselves, they need to have number of games under their belt. And having said that they understand that they need to perform as well as there is a lot of competition in the middle. They have to grab that opportunity and whoever grabs the opportunity is in the playing 11. It is important for them to understand as well that there are lot of guys waiting to grab the opportunity but we don’t want them to carry any pressure. We just want them to go out on the field and they are not carring any pressure.”
The 30-year-old Rohit, who recently notched up his third Test ton after 4 years, also opened about his Test performances.
“Personally, for me it was important that I had to be ready for an opportunity. In last few years, the combination we have been playing with allowed the captain to go with five bowlers at times and five batsmen at times. I wanted to prepare myself in the manner that I am ready for a game anytime. That’s what happened in Nagpur where I got a game and was ready for it. I am happy with the way the Test series has gone and I want to continue from where I left. I don’t want to put pressure on myself and want to enjoy my game,” concluded Rohit Sharma.