Written off after four losses on the trot to start with in the IPL, Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma on Monday said their revival and the subsequent title triumph was triggered by the belief that every game was his team's final.
After suffering five losses from their first six matches, Sharma and co. showed tremendous resilience winning seven of their last eight matches to finish second in the league and in the first qualifier they beat Chennai Super Kings.
Pitted against familiar foes CSK in the summit clash --against whom they have played all their three finals -- MI capped the turnaround brilliantly thrashing Mahendra Singh Dhoni's yellow brigade by 41 runs to win their second title at the Eden Gardens on Sunday night.
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"To be honest, there was no game-changing instance for us. We did not have any instance like that. we knew the moment we would lose, we would be out of the tournament and we treated every game as a final, as it was our last game," Sharma told the post match news conference.
Crediting their coach and two-time World Cup winning Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting for guiding him through, Sharma said he's relishing his captaincy. "Ponting has played a huge part. He has come and helped me a lot in terms of captaincy. He has been such a great captain for Australia. He brings that experience to the table.
Even when we won the title in 2013, he was not playing, he guided us through and was very much part of our team. He was there to help.
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"Basically I try to keep it simple. I stick to my strengths and listen to myself a lot on the field and go by my instincts on the field. The planning, strategy we did for two months really seemed to be working well."
He also showered praise on the team's support staff for standing up to the challenge and deliver when it mattered most. "There were times when we're not winning games. As a captain it was important to keep the team stay together and let it not drift away. We knew we would have it our way when we do our basics right. we have got guys who can individually turn the game. It was a matter of putting it together and we did that perfectly."
"I have very good teammates, a good bunch of guys who are willing to take up the challenge and perform. At any given point when we're in trouble the guys took up the challenge and put it across the opposition. This is all it required to win a tournament. You try and win those little moments and we did well," Sharma said.
"Credit to each one of us and not just the 11 players. It's the whole squad who deserves a lot of credit. The support staff also put a lot of efforts behind the scene and some of them get unnoticed," he said hailing their nine-man support that included team icon Sachin Tendulkar.
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The MI skipper said he loved to bat first and take the attack to opposition in big matches and skipper Dhoni's call for bowling first after winning the toss was a welcome sign.
"It was a good toss to lose. When MS said he would like to bowl first, I was little happy inside. It's a big game, you want to put runs on the board and put pressure on opposition. That exactly what happened. In big games, you would like to do that that's my preference." Sharma, who also has an IPL century against KKR, a world record ODI score of 264 and a debut Test hundred at the Eden, looked in full flow after he came with MI at 1/1 in the first over.
The MI skipper hit a 26-ball 50 while Lendl Simmons slammed a 45-ball 68 as their 119 run partnership from 67 balls set them up for a huge 202/5, the second highest total in an IPL final.
Sharma said they never went in eyeing a 200-plus total. "We just batted normally. It was always important to have partnership with wickets in hand and get the momentum. We wanted to bat normally and at the same time we wanted to be aggressive as well. Our partnership was important as later on Rayudu and Pollard finished off well."
Things may not be going well for the CSK skipper Dhoni but Sharma backed the Indian World Cup winning captain and said he's a champion. "There's a certain way he goes about his batting. He has been a great match winner for CSK and India. The situation was probably not right on Sunday as he would have expected more from the openers. "You should give credit to our bowlers for the way they restricted them as CSK didn't get off to a good start and it always becomes difficult when you lose wickets."