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Dhoni's decision to make me open in ODIs changed my career: Rohit Sharma

By Nilabh Aole -

India's opener in limited overs, Rohit Sharma reckons that MS Dhoni's decision to make him open the innings in ODIs during the Champions trophy 2013 has completely changed his career. 

During an exclusive interview with PTI, Rohit said, "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."

In the first game when Sharma opened the innings for India, he has smashed 80 runs and after that, there was no looking back for him. Describing the incident when Dhoni asked him to open, Rohit said, "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'." 

He further added, "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."

Dhoni's decision has resulted in such a way that now Rohit Sharam is the only player in the world to score two double hundreds in ODIs. Talking about Champions Trophy, Sharma said, "The Champions Trophy in England made me confident that I can open and ready to face challenges of playing white ball in English conditions in the morning. I got 65 against South Africa, who had Morne Morkel, Ryan McLaren, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rory Kleinveldt. Morne and McLaren were hitting three-quarter length and Tsotsobe was swinging it. The skipper was confident that I could handle the situation and I did."

Rohit also holds the record for the highest individual score in ODIs. Praising Dhoni's captaincy, he 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."

Currently, Rohit is recovering from a thigh surgery and he is disappointed to stay away from the game.  He said, "You can't do anything about it and I have been in situations like this before. What disappointed me was the fact that the injury happened just when I was in rhythm scoring three successive 50s against New Zealand in Test matches. The pitches against England were good batting strips and it would have been enjoyable."

In the last test against England, Karun Nair scored a brilliant triple hundred. After asking if Rohit is feeling insecure now, he replied, "I have never ever been an insecure person and the reason being I know how to move on in life. What would have happened if I wouldn't have got injured is irrelevant? The fact is Karun got his chance and played brilliantly and should be applauded. In fact, I saw a bit of it when Karun and KL (Rahul) were batting. It was top quality stuff."

Talking about his comeback, Sharma said, "Well, I can't set an exact date on when I will return to competitive cricket. I am told it would take 12-14 weeks for complete recovery. It means anything between four to six weeks from now. I have started running and from next week I will start with my batting drills. First the basic drills, followed by batting against bowling machine followed by proper net session."

Rohit reckons that he needs to play some domestic cricket before making a comeback. He said, "I don't know about Australia series but I need to play some practice games. I would like to speak to Mumbai CA if I could play some club games. The problem is that I have not played club cricket for more than 10 years so I am not aware of current procedures and stuff like that."

Despite the fact that Rohit is one of the best batsmen of the shorter formats of cricket, he still believes that sometimes being silent helps us more. He said, "During my earlier days, it did bother me as to what people thought about my game. Now I am not bothered as I have learned that I can't stop anyone from criticizing. I am not a kid that I should get affected by sharp criticism. Rather than that, I would spend quality time in getting better as a cricketer." 

Sharma concluded by talking about his rehab program, he said, "I am a strong person but my wife Ritika is even stronger than me. She is my strength and when I come back home, I can take my mind off my profession and talk about something completely different. That's how it has been."

Nilabh Aole

I am genuine cricket fan, who respect the game as well