Prajakta Pawar in Delhi
My team stuck by me through thick and thin
MI captain appreciates teammates’ support in twin title triumphs
A brilliant performer with the bat, he amassed 173 runs from five matches at a strike-rate of 151.75, leaving the audiences mesmerized with his impeccable timing. He made crucial contributions with the bat and led the team proactively, which gained him high praise from various quarters.
While speaking to clt20.com after the finals win over the Rajasthan Royals, Sharma said that although captaincy wasn’t an easy task, the support of his teammates and the support staff helped him a long way. The captaincy also helped his form just as he has mentioned in the past. Although he seemed thrilled about his own batting, he would now like to guard against complacency.
Here he reflects on the final, leadership and the game:
How good does it feel to lead the team to back-to-back title wins – Indian Premier League and Champions League T20?
It’s a great feeling. To win a championship, any championship, is a great feeling, and to win the IPL and then the CLT20 was even more amazing. This tournament is not easy, and as we all know it’s the Champions League T20 and the best teams in the world come and play. So you got to be at your best to perform. And we showed the character right from the first game. We were a little unfortunate that our game in Ahmedabad got washed out, but you can’t do much about that. But we are lucky that our next game got shifted to Jaipur so that we could get a game. It was very important to win that game against the Highveld Lions.
What has it been like to lead the team to twin victories in your first year at the helm?
For me being a captain, being a leader, wasn’t easy but the guys who played with me really supported me through the tough times and the good times. It is important to have that support from your teammates. Our support staff is such an experienced support staff that I don’t need to worry much about it. But yes, obviously in terms of making strategy, planning and stuff like that, it was really good. I am really happy that I got good support from my teammates and the support staff.
RR put up a tough fight despite the steep target
Yes, honestly we were a bit under pressure initially. They played some really good shots. Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane played some really good shots. So we were under pressure, no doubt about that. But we knew that we have experienced bowlers, in our team who can pull us back and they really got us into the game. I thought we fielded really well. Everybody’s intent on the ground was really great and you could see that there is a hunger in the team and everyone wanted this badly. The most important thing about this team was that we never got complacent. After winning the IPL, we never relaxed; we wanted to come here and perform and enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the cricket and enjoy each other’s success, and that’s exactly what we did.
A farewell to Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid from the shortest format of the game in the same match
Absolutely, them being legends of Indian cricket. We won’t be able to see them in coloured clothing anymore, which is sad, but that’s how it is. There are times when people have to go. It is sad but you got to move on and see what we can do. But hats off to them for whatever they have done for Indian cricket. The whole nation will miss them.
Your Mumbai and India teammate Ajinkya Rahane did fantastically to earn the Golden Bat
I am really happy for him, personally. He has been through a lot recently. I am really happy for him and I hope he keeps scoring those runs and comes back into the national side as soon as possible.
Your thoughts on the Golden Wicket winner, Pravin Tambe
I don’t have words actually. He really showed the world that age doesn’t matter and that it is just a number. At 42, he just showed people the sort of mentality you need to have to succeed. He was there and he wanted to perform. I have heard a lot about him, although I haven’t played much with him in Mumbai; but I have heard a lot of good things about him. He came here and performed in this big tournament, which is not easy and I am really happy for him.
Even you have been hitting the ball very well
I was batting in the middle order and I knew I needed to play those crucial knocks whenever required. And I am really happy with my current form and my batting. I just need to carry on. The only thing that is kind of frightening is that I don’t want to get complacent here. This is over now, but there is a lot of cricket coming up. So I just want to go out there and focus on that now.