Eleven games across formats (6 T20Is, 3 ODIs and 2 Tests) isn’t a big sample size to judge someone but big enough to be hopeful that the future would be good.
As a leader so far, Rohit is not just a ‘Run Machine’ but is also showing himself to be tactically astute.
At the same time he also seems to know quite well that one needs to have a back-up plan and groom the next set for the future.
The difference between victor and vanquished in sport is about minor percentages and the foundation of Rohit’s leadership style is based on that.
“I always try to analyse an upcoming game situation based on the probability of it happening. I try to factor in percentages of a certain situation and the decision is based on what I feel is the maximum probability,” the skipper said after winning his maiden Test series as captain, against Sri Lanka on Monday.
Ranji Trophy, where most teams still play for first innings lead, isn’t a good breeding ground for proactive captains, save some domestic stalwarts like Ashok Mankad or a Bishan Singh Bedi, who were very different.
So, Rohit himself didn’t have a reference for how to lead in a format in which parameters aren’t finite like white-ball games, where he has already aced the leadership part.
But there are certain inherent basics of captaincy and the most important is instinct.
🗣️ 🗣️ #TeamIndia captain @ImRo45 speaks about the experience and learnings on leading the side for the first time i… https://t.co/TK5lGowLNQ
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1647276586000
One might have collated 100 hours of data, practised situations for a thousand hours but still things can change. During the Sri Lanka series, Rohit showed he is ready for those scenarios.
“I rely a lot on my instincts on specific match situations. It’s like being in the moment and thinking on your feet. What’s right at that particular time, what can work, what can’t work.
“On how the opposition is playing. It’s a mix of everything. Eventually, some are correct and some will be wrong,” he said.
That the Mumbai Indians captaincy has turned him into a good ‘Man Manager’ was understandable when he spoke about support from senior members of the side for those who are finding their space.
“I have got a lot of help from the seniors and some of them have a good understanding of situations. And then comes my understanding of situations,” he said without taking names.
Similarly, he would always make it a point to mention the axed duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane‘s contribution in making what has become a solid Test team.
But when he praises Shreyas Iyer‘s “game sense and maturity” and admits that the player “grabbed it really well and made it count”, one knows he is trying to get a move on and put the jigsaw puzzle pieces in their place.
At 34, one can’t guarantee how long Rohit would want to lead four teams — three national and one IPL.
In the post COVID-19 world and faced with life in bio-bubbles frequently, even if one takes a break, monotony can creep in and while he isn’t going anywhere till the 2023 World Test Championship cycle is complete, one does get an inkling that he is hand-holding and grooming Rishabh Pant for the leadership role.
Chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma has already earmarked Pant among future leaders and expects Rohit to groom those short-listed.
He never said in as many words that he is preparing Pant but the endearing manner in which he speaks makes it obvious that he can relate to the 24-year-old man from Roorkee.
Someone, who is equally talented and audacious like he was when he burst into the scene 15 years back.
Someone who was feted and pilloried in equal measure during those years when “talent” seemed more like an abuse rather than a compliment.
Remember support staff’s analogy of “careless and fearless” during earlier coaching staff’s regime.
Well, Rohit ensured a welcome departure to that terminology. He knows Pant comes as a package and he is ready to accept him as he is without trying to mould him into something that he is not.
And at the same time, he wants to make him feel responsible.
“I have made it very clear to Rishabh as to what I want with a DRS call, certain aspects of the game that I have told him to look into, you will not always be making right calls but that’s absolutely okay with me,” he said.
“Rishabh, as keeper, has the best view. I ask him how much it is turning, from where it is turning. Is the batter lunging forward? If so, how much? Is he defending? If yes, then is it straight defence or is it side-on defence?
“He is a franchise captain and he has the idea. Suggestions lena buri baat hai nahi (It’s not bad to get some suggestions). As far as his batting is concerned, he is getting better with gameplans. There will be days we will scratch our heads but we know what comes with him,” the skipper said.
Sri Lanka was a trailer of Captain Sharma’s command and the film is now eagerly anticipated in a World Cup year.