On the eve of his side’s first T20I against Bangladesh in Delhi, Rohit Sharma, India’s captain for the three-match series, urged the youngsters in the side to grab their opportunity with both hands, as India begin building towards next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
India’s squad is filled with newcomers. While Mumbai all-rounder Shivam Dube is the only uncapped member of the 15-man squad, Khaleel Ahmed, the Chahar brothers – Deepak and Rahul – Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar have, between them, a combined 72 international caps.
— BCCI (@BCCI) November 2, 2019
Some of them, such as Shreyas and Samson, have had great success in the Indian Premier League in the past, but Rohit warned that international cricket is a huge step up, and that those who are able to step out of their comfort zone and push themselves are the ones most likely to succeed.
“That is the challenge of international cricket,” he said. “You will not get exactly what you want. You will have to work your way, you will have to earn that position.
“Plus, at the same time, you have to make sure that whatever little opportunities you get, you make the most of it. At their IPL franchises, they are more or less guaranteed to play at least 10 games, so they know how to bat and what to do. When it comes to international cricket, there are limited opportunities. All of us have gone through that. It’s not just these guys, and I am sure they are working towards that. They are very keen and hungry to do well in those limited opportunities.”
Rohit is leading in this series as a stand-in for regular skipper Virat Kohli, who has been rested. Rohit is a far more proven leader in the T20 format than Kohli is, having captained Mumbai Indians to an unprecedented four title wins in the IPL, as opposed to Kohli, whose Royal Challengers Bangalore are yet to win the trophy.
— BCCI (@BCCI) November 2, 2019
As for his captaincy philosophy, Rohit, who put his players ahead of him, said: “In T20, you need a lot of strategy, planning, understanding the players, what you have in your squad and what they can offer. That is the most important thing for a captain to understand. That is something I have probably executed at Mumbai Indians, with the help of the support staff we have.
“The way I look at it is when you captain your side, you are not such an important person. The other 10 players are the most important players because you want to get the best out of those 10 players. Of course, your performance will matter, but I don’t like to consider myself at the forefront. The other 10 guys become the forefront of the team, and I have to focus on them and give them that confidence and freedom where they can come out and express themselves.
“At the same time, you need that support from the players as well, which I have got very well at Mumbai Indians, and even when I have captained India for whatever little time I have. I expect the same in this tournament as well.”
Rohit also warned India against taking Bangladesh easy, even though they may be missing two of their best players, Tamim Iqbal, who opted out of the tour to be with his wife for the birth of their second child, and Shakib Al Hasan, who has been banned for two years, with one year suspended, for failing to report a fixing approach.
“Bangladesh is a very very good team,” Rohit said. “Over the years, we have seen how they have performed, not just at home, but also away. Especially against us, they have always put us under pressure. There is no way we look at this team differently.
“I understand there are two key players missing, but they still have quality players that can upset any team. I wouldn’t say ‘upset’. I would say ‘beat’. That’s a good word to use. They are very mature cricketers now.”