Rohit Sharma’s approach may seem casual, and at times he may look the most disinterested cricketer on the field.
But that’s how he has been through his career.
Restored to his favourite position as opener, after shuffling between the No 4 and top spot the last couple of seasons, the Mumbai Indians skipper is leading from the front. His form with the bat has started to rub off on teammates, who have played some useful knocks after initial hiccups.
It isn’t as if Rohit performed badly in the middle order, but after being an India opener for a while, it was apt for him to replicate it for the franchise as well.
In his comfort zone, Rohit has set the tone at the top of the innings with four of his three half-centuries resulting in victories for Mumbai.
With their bowling making steady progress, it was batting that had been causing concern. It put Mumbai under pressure with the team failing to get past 150 in three of the first four matches in which they batted first and Rohit fell cheaply.
When he clicked, like in the second match against Kolkata Knight Riders, he took Mumbai to the finish line with his 54-ball 84 and some help from Jos Buttler.
They lost the next two but since then have won three out of four to push themselves towards the knockout phase.
Rohit’s impact at the top has rubbed off on the others, helping them to get into the groove. Ambati Rayudu has eased into the role of one who holds the middle order together, Buttler has had a couple of useful knocks, Parthiv Patel got over his struggles in the win over Kings XI Punjab and Kieron Pollard finally exploded in the last match against the Knight Riders to finish off the good work started by Rohit.
Mumbai’s batting coach Robin Singh agreed Rohit deserved his place at the top of the order. “It’s important to get a good start. Obviously, he is someone who is doing that for India and that’s the perfect place for him and even for us. His three big scores have resulted in wins for us,” he said.
While the others slogged it out at the nets on Saturday, Rohit, on his birthday, decided to go through the paces on one of the side pitches. Taking throw-downs from the support staff, the focus was on tightening defence, bisecting the imaginative gaps and late cuts before he cut loose and hit the big ones.
The defending champions will hope the skills will be on display against Rising Pune Supergiants on Sunday, who got the better of them in the tournament opener.