Rohit Sharma: Winning is everything for me

"Australia are always tough opponents to play against. I have some splendid memories playing against them. As always, it’s going to be an exciting series and I will look to put my best foot forward," says Rohit Sharma on the eve of India’s departure to Australia.

Rohit Sharma... all set for the limited-overs series against Australia.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Mitchell Johnson, according to Rohit Sharma, is a great competitor and a fierce opponent.   -  REUTERS

Rohit Sharma tied the knot with long-time girlfriend Ritika Sajdeh at a gala ceremony in Mumbai on December 13, 2015. The right-hander, who has made the opener’s slot his own in limited-overs cricket, believes there can be nothing more special than settling down with his best friend.

Rohit is now set for the tour of Australia, a country where he blossomed as a batsman during the historic CB Series triumph in 2008. In an exclusive chat with Sportstar on the eve of the team’s departure, the 28-year-old Mumbaikar talks about the sanctity of marriage, his wife, India’s win over South Africa and a lot more.

Excerpts:

It’s said that marriage completes a person. How have the last couple of weeks been?

Honestly, we’ve both been such a big part of each other’s life right from the start that I feel like nothing’s changed. Our lives changed from the second we realised that we had feelings for each other. Marriage just told the world what we already knew.

You have known Ritika for eight years. Could you tell us how seamless was the shift from best friends to life partners?

It truly was seamless. It felt absolutely natural. We actually feel silly for not realising it earlier. Everyone else caught on, way before we did. She knows every little detail about my life and I of hers, so we can be ourselves around each other. I can’t imagine anything better than falling in love with one’s best friend.

Amidst all the celebrations, which moment was the most special for you?

Of course, the mandap when we actually got married was the most special part, but also the fact that my bride had her own baraat at 10 am with dholwalas and all! Never a dull moment with this one!

 

Could you please share one piece of advice you received from your parents or Ritika’s or somebody else present at the wedding? Something that touched your heart?

My mother-in-law told us never to go to sleep angry. She told us to make a box and fill it with our letters and photos and put it away. And when we fight, to open that box and remember why we chose each other.

What does marriage mean to you? In a way, it signals the start of something special because there is someone you can fall back on for everything. It also means that it is your responsibility to take care of that special person. How do you look at it?

Marriage to me is the most sacred of all bonds. Choosing who you want to spend the rest of your life with is the biggest and most important decision of your life. We have always leaned on each other and put each other first.

You are all set for six months of non-stop limited-overs cricket starting with the tour of Australia in mid-January and finishing with the IPL by the end of May. What are your goals for these six months?

I don’t keep long-term goals because it’s not logical. I look at every series and prepare accordingly because the challenges in Australia are not going to be like the ones in Bangladesh (where we play our next series, Asia Cup T20).

How do you look back at the Test series in which India humbled the No. 1-ranked South Africans 3-0?

It was a great series to be part of; we played the way we wanted to play and we got what we wanted. It was going to be a challenging one to beat the No. 1-ranked team but everyone played their part in achieving what we achieved.

There was a lot of talk on the quality and nature of the pitches in the series. Do you reckon teams the world over have redefined the term ‘home advantage’? Is winning at all costs the most important thing?

I think so. Winning is everything for me and I’m sure for my team-mates too. I don’t understand why there was so much focus on the pitch, instead it should have been on the skill that was being displayed. Both teams played on the same pitch and yes, teams have all the right to play to their strength and prepare pitches accordingly.

You blossomed as a batsman during the tour of Australia in 2008. You are going back to the country less than a year after the World Cup. What are the challenges you expect, especially given the fact that Australia are playing an amazing brand of cricket?

Australia are always tough opponents to play against. I have some splendid memories playing against them. As always, it’s going to be an exciting series and I will look to put my best foot forward.

Australia are without Mitchell Johnson. What do you remember of Johnson the competitor?

Honestly, Australia are going to miss him considering the kind of impact he’s had last couple of years. He is a great competitor and a fierce opponent. As a batsman, you knew that when you were facing him you had to work for every run, you never get anything easy from Mitchell.

(As appeared in sportstar.thehindu.com on January 6, 2016)