When Mumbai Indians appointed the legendary Ricky Ponting as their skipper for IPL 6, we were all keen to watch the Australian open the innings with Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. Everybody spoke about the ‘Pondulkar’ moment and statisticians dug out all details about the thousands of runs the duo had scored in international cricket.
Mumbai had been struggling to find a skipper after Harbhajan Singh stepped down from captaincy to focus on his bowling. Even though Tendulkar had led the side for a few years, we all know that he wasn’t comfortable with his position. And thus, Ponting looked like a perfect choice, one who had loads of experience as a skipper and a dream career record for every captain.
But little did the team management know that all this would be of no use and that they would have to drop him from the playing eleven after just six matches. The 38-year-old managed just 52 runs from five innings and failed to get his side to a good start. The question was who was next, because Harbhajan and Tendulkar were already out of contention. And a brave move was made as Rohit Sharma was asked to lead the side. This was another experiment which could have failed, thereby adding to the woes of the Mumbai squad.
But ever since he has been handed over the captaincy, Sharma has shown maturity and there has been a tremendous improvement in his batting as well. He has been involved in several crucial partnerships and has looked keen to play big innings every now and then. Rohit Sharma the player was often criticised for his casual batting approach. But as a skipper, he has won praises from all corners and has finished the game for his team on several occasions.
It wasn’t easy to lead a side that boasts of some of the biggest players from all across the world. The only way he could have made an impact was by scoring runs. And Rohit Sharma the batsman proved to be as good as Rohit Sharma the captain. The 26-year-old has so far scored 501 runs from 15 matches, 79* being his highest score. The team has grown in confidence and even though he has scored just two half-centuries so far, he has been involved in several match-winning partnerships and has reinvigorated the Mumbai Indians’ squad.
Rohit Sharma has always been impressive in the shorter format of the game. But it was his lack of maturity at the international level that was criticised by cricket experts. However, the experts themselves fell short of words when it came to speaking about the talent he possessed.
The captaincy has done a lot of good for Mumbai and even Rohit Sharma has proved a point to everybody about his leadership skills. The right-hander has an incredible fan-following, who were often left disappointed whenever he failed with the bat. But his new role in IPL 6 has been a breath of fresh air not only for the team but for the batsman himself too. For the time being, all eyes are on Rohit as he could possibly lead Mumbai Indians to their maiden IPL title. And we never know, sooner or later, he might also lead Team India someday!