Kolkata: Staying calm and focussed in crunch situations helped him blossom as a captain, said Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma while describing the team`s journey towards its maiden Indian Premier League title a "great experience".
"It`s been a tough journey. We have fought from day one. Those are great experience personally to lead such a star-studded side," Sharma said at the post-match presser after Mumbai beat Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs here last night.
It was a memorable moment for Sharma winning the IPL title at Eden Gardens, the same venue where he was first appointed skipper after Ricky Ponting had stepped down due to lack of form.
"It was right here in Kolkata when the moment came to me... We came here after losing two games in Jaipur and Delhi," he said.
Sharma said Ponting has had a great influence on his performance and the Aussie World Cup winning skipper made a significant contribution in the dressing room.
"He was guiding the batsmen all the way through. He has been in such a situation for so many times for Australia. He knows what sort of mindset one should have. He never looked back. He was always there watching the game, reading the game from the dug out.
"Personally, it was to take out his thoughts. It was important for me to go and talk to him. He was keeping a close eye on our approach. He was always there for us," he said.
Careful planning and playing to a situation have been Sharma`s route to success as the 26-year-old showed amazing maturity as a captain.
"I would like to keep it very simple. I don`t want to complicate things too much. The simpler, the easier it is. That`s been my strength. You always seek advice in a tough situation from the seniors and people around you. It`s about staying calm and focused.
"Right from day one when I was given this responsibility, it was a great journey. It was not easy. At the same time, it also made my job easier. I had ups and downs, we lost playoff against Chennai. It was a tough game but we really fought hard. I am very happy with the result," he said.
Asked about the argument he had with wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik over field setting during the last ball of the Chennai innings, Sharma said he did not want to give his opponents any easy chances to score.
"It was a crucial moment, we did not want to give them easy runs. It's always good to get thoughts flowing around you. But it's up to me to decide what to do. Being a leader, I've to make the changes. It was good there was a lot of suggestions coming on from various players. I thought I handed those situations really well," he said.
Sharma said they were confident of defending a modest target of 149 against the two-time champions having restricted them to 79 at Wankhede in Mumbai during their league game.
"About the total, we posted 139 for five in Mumbai and got them all out for 79. We knew it's not going to be easy batting second, especially when you lose early wickets. Their strength was batting. They like to bat first and put runs on the board so the toss was very important. The plan went according to us," he said.
The decision to open the bowling with Lasith Malinga worked really well for Sharma, who said he wanted to give the Lankan pacer some confidence after a wayward last-over against Rajasthan Royals in their previous match.
"It was important to take early wickets. You saw what happened in Delhi as they went on to score 190-plus. I thought Malinga was the man who could do it for us. We wanted to give the confidence which he needed."
Sharma also praised Ambati Rayudu for playing a 37-run cameo in the middle as his stand with Dinesh Karthik (21) set it up for Pollard (60 not out) to fire in the death overs.
"His (Rayudu's) innings was very crucial. We lost early wickets. We needed a decent partnership in the middle. Rayudu and Karthik did that and got us back into the game. Their partnership was really crucial. It set up for Polly (Kieron Pollard) to just go after the bowling."