Rohit Sharma backs India U-19 team to bring the Cup back home

Rohit Sharma has backed the Priyam Garg-led team to play hard in the next month's U-19 World Cup in South Africa.

India's limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma with the trainees of his cricket academy in Mumbai.   -  Shayan Acharya

As the Priyam Garg-led India’s U-19 side gets ready for the U-19 World Cup campaign — which begins in South Africa from January 12 — India’s batting ace, Rohit Sharma, hopes the colts to defend the title.

“Our team looks very strong as always. We won the last time; I wouldn’t say that we will win this year as well. I am sure about one thing — they are going to play really hard. They have got great coaching staff. Of course, it’s a big platform and in big platforms, India team generally tends to do well. I hope they bring the Cup back home,” Sharma said on Thursday.

Read: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma end 2019 on top of ICC ODI rankings

India’s limited-overs team vice-captain, who interacted with the young trainees at the Rohit Sharma-Cricket Kingdom Cricket Academy at the Islam Gymkhana ground, also admitted that for youngsters, it’s important to be ‘true to the game’.

“That’s the most important thing. At this age, it’s hard to understand those things but as one of the members who have gone through the ranks, I keep telling them to be true to yourself. Be true to the game. There are no shortcuts,” Sharma said.

Being a part of the India U-19 team, which played the World Cup final against Pakistan in 2006, Sharma understands that it is not easy to defend a title — India had won U-19 World Cup in 2018. But he believes that with a strict routine, youngsters can overcome the odds.

Rohit Sharma (seated second from left) and his U-19 team-mates having a chat with Kapil Dev in Chennai in 2006.   -  S.R. Raghunathan


“If you try and skip your practice sessions or training sessions, it’s not going to do you any good. These are the things I try and talk to them about. They have a future in front of them, it’s about how disciplined they are in whatever they are doing. What sort of information they get from us is also important,” Sharma said, making it clear that as senior cricketers they are trying to ‘pass on the necessary information’ to the youngsters, so that they can improve their game.

At a time when the game has progressed immensely mainly due to the advancement of technology and better facilities, Sharma admits that the current crop of players have more exposure than they had. “I guess yes because of the coaching these days we have and the syllabus that we have created, it says all of this that a youngster needs to be given freedom — to bat or how to bowl. That’s how the execution comes,” Sharma said.

Also read: There is no way I'm stopping, says Rohit Sharma after stellar 2019

“As a young kid growing in this generation you want to play shots, you want to look good and all that but again it is very important what they think of their game and understanding they have about the game, it is nothing harm in playing big shots, trying to play a flamboyant cover drive,” Sharma said, backing the youngsters to play freely.

“As a kid, when we used to play a shot in the air, we were taken out of the nets, which I thought was not right, because eventually you want the results and what if the guy is giving you results by playing the big shots, there is nothing wrong in that. So I would encourage them to play shots if they want to, but at the same time they need to understand that they need to be productive, they need to produce results, that’s the game,” the seasoned campaigner said.

“If you score 100 runs even off 50 balls, it still a hundred, whether you score a hundred off 200 balls, it doesn’t matter, at the end of the day you want results. I mean if the guy is confident in his skills, I would back that skill, back that guy to do whatever he wants… there should not be any restriction in how these young players want to bat… they should be allowed to bat freely, that’s how they will produce results…”

While he is all for giving the required freedom to a batsman, Sharma believes it is important to ensure that the youngster is not making mistakes. “What we need to care of is, if he is doing mistakes again and again, that needs to be rectified and told to a youngster that it is not right what you are doing, just be careful on how you go about it next time. So those are the things. I mean playing shots is no harm, it is not a crime…”

Asked why he decided to start his own academy, Sharma said: “It is all about helping these youngsters, giving them the platform… I always wanted to give it back (to the game) because I have been through this and I have known what difficulties and consequences you face when you are growing up as a kid and when you want to take up a sport, this is one of the reason why I always wanted to be a part of the academy because in some way I can contribute.”

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