'I respond well to responsibility'

Rohit Sharma says he has learned to look beyond criticism and focus on the job at hand.

New Delhi: Critics have often questioned the Indian team management for continuing with Rohit Sharma in the national ODI team despite his repeated failures.

While nobody ever questioned his talent, they felt that Rohit was one of those players who had oodles of talent, but never managed to convert it into performance on the field.

But luckily for Rohit, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has time and again backed the Mumbai batsman and also made it clear that those with exceptional talent need that extra bit of backing and support. And in the last six months, Rohit has finally proved Dhoni right. Not only has he proved to be the perfect foil for the swashbuckling Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order, he has also gone ahead and silenced all the detractors.

Speaking to Mail Today, Rohit made it clear that while it took him time, he has definitely matured with age and learned to focus more on what he does best — give the Indian team a perfect start every time he goes out there in the middle with Dhawan.

“Honestly, I’ve learnt to take criticism in my stride. It’s part and parcel of the game and I try not to focus too much on what’s being said about me. My job is to go out there and enjoy my game and do well for the team and I concentrate on the task at hand,” he said.

Even though the silken drives and the wristy flicks were always a part of his repertoire, he was always considered as a batsman who was one ball away from playing a rash shot and getting out.

But not with the revamped Rohit — clearly evident on the slow and sluggish wickets in the Caribbean Islands in June where he was more than willing to sweat it out. The sense of calm was clearly visible.

While many critics felt that the skipper’s tag of the Mumbai Indians ahead of the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League would further burden him, Rohit feels that it has actually made him more responsible and humble.

“Yes, most definitely. The responsibility of leading a side like Mumbai Indians who have some of the biggest names in world cricket on their roster is humbling. I respond well to responsibility. I’ve always thought strategically when I played and it’s nice to be able to actually implement those strategies and see them work out in my favour,” the 26-year-old said.

“Every player dreams of leading his side, but there’s always that slight fear that you won’t be as good at it as you think, but I’m really happy with the way things played out for me and hearing people say captaincy has made me humble.”

While Dhoni has publicly backed Rohit, even team-mate Virat Kohli recently said that Rohit is far more talented than himself. Kohli went on to add that not having a fixed spot in the batting order till recently was hampering Rohit’s rise. Rohit is glad to have such supportive team-mates.

“It’s nice to hear that from your team-mate. This shows we enjoy each others' success and there’s a positive vibe in our dressing room which is always a good sign. I don’t know if that is what has helped, but players should be mentally prepared to bat wherever the team needs them to, it gives your team more options to play with. But, yes, fixed batting positions do help,” he said.

Indian cricketers don’t often get a break thanks to the hectic international schedule, but this time round, things were different as the players got a two-month long break. And while sometimes a player wants the momentum to carry on and not get broken by a break, Rohit begs to differ. He feels that a break is always welcome.

“It absolutely helps. Your body and mind definitely benefit from a little time off. Concentration is all in the mind. Even when I’m on break, I keep my gym routine fairly regular so that I don’t slack off. You have to have a balance and maintain that balance whether you’re touring or on a holiday,” he signed off.

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