He has been one of India’s most dependable batsman in ODIs and Rohit Sharma feels that outgoing captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s “decision” to make him open the batting in 50-over format was a “career-changing move”.
“I believe the decision to open in ODIs changed my career and it was a decision taken by MS Dhoni. I became a better batsman after that. In fact it helped me understand my game better, react better according to situations,” Rohit said.
He first opened in early 2013 against England during the home series, scoring 80 odd runs and followed that up with a steady show in the Champions Trophy.
When asked if he remembers how he was approached, Rohit recollects it was in customary MSD style — in a very matter of fact manner. “He (Dhoni) just came up to me and said ‘I want you to open the innings as I am confident that you will do well. Since you can play both cut and pull shot well, you have the qualities to succeed as an opener’,” Rohit said.
“He told me that I shouldn’t be scared of failures or get upset by criticism. He was looking at the bigger picture as the Champions Trophy was scheduled in England that year,” said Rohit, the only player in world cricket with two double hundreds in ODIs.
According to Rohit, Dhoni’s reading of a player’s ability is peerless. “The Champions Trophy in England made me confident that I can open and am ready to face challenges of playing white ball in English conditions in the morning. I got 65 against South Africa. The skipper was confident that I could handle the situation and I did,” the world record holder for highest individual score in ODIs, said.
“With no disrespect to other great Indian captains, I was blessed to play under MS all these years. His calmness in pressure situations helped us. He always led from the front. There won’t be one like him.”
Rohit is recuperating from a thigh surgery after having sustained a muscle injury during the New Zealand ODIs. He is disappointed but takes it in his stride.