Celebrating a decade with Mumbai Indians today, Rohit Sharma has turned out to be their best player over the years.
This is quite an achievement considering that legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Sanath Jayasuriya have played for this team.
A Mumbaikar through and through, Rohit Sharma has always held the ‘City of Dreams’ close to his heart. Although he started his IPL career with the Deccan Chargers in 2008, it was in 2011 that Mumbai Indians brought him in and Rohit returned to his rightful place.
Sharma has seen his career graph grow simultaneously with the success rate of Mumbai Indians. The impact which Rohit had after joining Mumbai Indians was tremendous as it seemed to bring an ‘x-factor’ to the island city which it was previously missing.
But, even after joining the side in 2011, Rohit couldn’t help Mumbai to a title win in two years. Ultimately, in 2013, Mumbai decided to hand the reigns of the team to Sharma, right after Ricky Ponting gave up the captaincy, in a desperate hope to win trophies. No one could have predicted what a game-changing decision that would turn out to be for them.
In his first year as captain, Rohit did the unthinkable, winning the team their first IPL trophy with a splendid win percentage of 68.42%. Before that season, Mumbai had managed to reach the finals just once in five years.
In the coming years, Rohit Sharma would go on to guide Mumbai Indians to two more title wins in 2015 and 2017 and then a record fourth title win in 2019.
The 2017 title win can be considered the most impressive one under his belt as he had more than 70% of wins in that season and lost just five matches.
In 2013, Mumbai also managed to win the now-defunct Champions League T20 in the same year. They had won it before in 2011.
Rohit’s knack of hitting aggressive knocks with elegance has earned him comparisons with legendary batsmen such as the West Indian great, Sir Viv Richards, and our very own Nawab of Najafgard, Virender Sehwag. He soon earned the nickname “Hitman” for his tendency to hit a barrage of sixes when he’s in his element. As years passed by, he started to shine more and led the team from the front. He proved that he is not only a natural-born talent, but he also is a natural-born leader.
In just seven seasons as captain, he has managed to win four titles -- something that no one else has managed to emulate. This makes him the most successful T20 franchise captain in the country.
‘The man with a plan’
Rohit Sharma is always known to have a plan by his side and which has, in turn, resulted in his success as captain. In an interview to Mumbai Mirror after winning the 2019 IPL trophy, Sharma spoke on what he does if his plan doesn’t work.
He said, “See that is why we don’t plan for just one particular thing. We plan for three different things. Like if something does not work, what is the next option and so on. At the end of the day, we have to give as much information to the bowlers as possible, and then it is up to them to think about what they can do. That is the job of coaches these days. It is not about teaching batting or bowling technique.”
One of his most memorable innings in the Mumbai jersey was in his first season as captain of the team. Although he has played several crucial innings and scored a century against the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012, his knock of 62 in 32 balls against Pune Warriors India is probably one of the most crucial.
Rohit came in at the eight over when Mumbai were struggling at 60 for 2. It was expected that they could not even cross the 150-run mark. They played at a leisurely pace and were at 120 with just four overs in hand. They knew that they had to take it up a notch. That is when Rohit stepped up. He changed gears and started hitting boundaries. There was no stopping him. Kieron Pollard proved to be good support for him and both of them managed to hit more than 60 runs in the last four overs and took Mumbai to a target of 183.
This match set the tone for the rest of the season which in turn led to Mumbai lifting their first trophy. The rest is history as they say.
The Rohit we see today and the Mumbai Indians that we see today have complimented each other since the beginning. Sharma has played a very important role in making the ‘brand’ of Mumbai Indians popular all across the world.
In fact, one can even say that Sharma is to Mumbai Indians what Dhoni is to the Chennai Super Kings.