Focusing on ODIs now, says Rohit Sharma

From carrying drinks to his team-mates in Test whites to being appointed as the vice-captain of India’s limited-overs squad, the dichotomy in Rohit’s fortunes are reflected in the roles he has donned.

Being benched for Tests can be a dampener but Rohit has made peace with that segment of his career.   -  AP

 

In the blue shade, Rohit Sharma has lived up to the talk about his incandescent talent that did the rounds across Mumbai maidans more than a decade ago. In Test whites, though, he hasn’t fulfilled his potential despite a blazing start - two consecutive centuries against the West Indies in his maiden series in 2013.

The dichotomy in Rohit’s fortunes between the game’s classical form and its abridged versions, was reflected in the roles he donned and continues to play in the current tour of Sri Lanka. In the Test series, Rohit trained at the nets and at times carried drinks to his team-mates. Now with the five-match ODI series set to commence at Dambulla from August 20, Rohit is back in business. Most thrilling for him was his appointment as the vice-captain.

Having finished a decade playing for India (Rohit made his debut in an ODI against Ireland at Belfast on June 23, 2007), the batsman was busy at the optional practice session at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday. Giving him company were K.L. Rahul and Axar Patel.

The vice-captain focussed on his sweeps and then it was time to speak to the Indian media. “Ten years ago, I was only thinking of playing for India. Being the vice-captain now feels really good. It’s an honour,” Rohit said.

Dwelling on his leadership stint with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL and that being an added knowledge-resource, Rohit said: “There I was the captain and so I was in front. Here I have to play a behind-the-scene role. But yes, I am very excited to step in as the vice-captain.”

Asked about his roller-coaster ride in international cricket, Rohit replied: “It has gone fast. It has been up and down but that’s how it is for any sportsman. When I started playing the Ranji Trophy, I realised that I had a goal and once I got picked for the Indian team, there was no looking back.”

Being benched for Tests can be a dampener but Rohit has made peace with that segment of his career. “Nobody likes to sit out but it all depends on the team dynamics. You got to accept and move forward. That’s what I have done. You cannot waste time. These past three to four weeks I was trying to improve my skills and watched how we played Test cricket. (Winning) 3-0 outside India is a great achievement,” he said.

Queried about his batting-evolution, Rohit explained: “Everyday you learn. Today I learnt about playing the sweeps and reverse sweeps when someone like (Lasith) Malinga bowls. Initially in the limited-overs’ format I played too many shots. Now I have realised that it cannot be just about slogging, you got to understand the situation and the conditions.” Later he added: “Every addition to your armoury is good.”

Rohit’s highest score in ODIs (264) was scored against Sri Lanka but he refused to take his opponent lightly. “I had some good times and also some terrible times against Sri Lanka, especially in 2012. We have come to Sri Lanka, many times and we understand the conditions and their bowling dynamics and that will help, " Rohit said.

The swashbuckling opener further added, "I have no idea about the (present Sri Lankan) squad but what they had in the ICC Champions Trophy, was a very good side. We posted a good score and 320 was never easy but they batted fearlessly and took the game away. In one day cricket they are a good team. We have to bring our best on the field.”

He may reclaim his Test spot in the future but for now his eyes are only on ODIs. “Test cricket is over, now I am just thinking about ODI,” he said.