After missing out on the fifth Test against England at Edgbaston due to COVID-19, India captain Rohit Sharma will be back in action for the three-match T20I series beginning on Thursday.

Rohit was in isolation for more than a week and returned to training only three days ago. He expects an intense competition between the two teams. But then, as he spoke during the pre-match media interaction in Southampton on Wednesday, Rohit admitted that a defeat in the fifth Test was 'hard to watch from the sidelines'.

“It’s never easy when you miss a game, especially an important game like that where the series was on the line for us. But yeah, I was struggling a little bit, but I am happy to be back on my feet, healthy. It’s nice to get back to playing, I am excited to be back on the field,” Rohit said.

Talking about his recovery, the India captain said, “Recovery has been good. In the past, we have seen that whoever has had COVID has responded differently. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but at the moment things look alright. I started training three days ago, and that’s why I decided to play this match. There are no symptoms and tests are also negative. I am just looking forward to the game.”

With the T20 World Cup just three months away, every game is crucial for the team. Rohit said, "Keeping the World Cup in mind, every game matters for us, and we will try to tick all the boxes and get our job done. As much as we have our eye on the World Cup, you have to ensure that the job is done here as well."

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Rohit was impressed with the teams performance in the Ireland series. “There are a lot of younger players who are getting an opportunity to play for India. (They are) coming here because of their performances in their state teams, IPL teams. They deserve their opportunity. England is going to be a challenging game for us. The boys have been here for a while.”

While the red-ball team lost the Test against England, the white-ball side was busy preparing for the T20I series and asked if the team will be hungrier for success after suffering a defeat at Edgbaston, Rohit said, “You want to have that hunger all the time when you play the sport - whether it is your batting performance, bowling performance. I spoke to a few guys here, they know the result but obviously didn’t watch the game. It's a bit disappointing to not come out winning. But this is a different format and time will tell whether that has impacted our preparation in this format.

“A lot of guys who won at Edgbaston are not here, so it is a different side for both teams. I am sure whenever there is a tussle between India and England, it’s a highly-watched contest.” 

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Going forward, the challenge for the Indian team will be to get its combination right ahead of the T20 World Cup. Rohit said role clarity will be the key when it comes to youngsters like Umran Malik. “He is very much in our plans. We are trying to give him that understanding as to what the team requires from him. There will be a time when we will try out a few guys and Umran is definitely one of them,” Rohit said.

“Keeping one eye on the World Cup, we would like to see what he has to offer for us. He is an exciting prospect, we saw in the IPL, he can bowl fast. It’s just about giving him the role, whether we want him to bowl with the new ball or we want to use him in the middle-order or backend. When you play for a franchise, roles are different as compared to the national team.”