Pune: India's premier spinner R Ashwin says Mahendra Singh Dhoni still holds the key for Indian cricket team in terms of communication and he is looking forward to adjust to Virat Kohli's aggressive style of leadership.
Ashwin commented when asked how different the communication could be with Kohli now leading the side in shorter formats too after Dhoni relinquished captaincy.
"The difference is in communication. Virat likes attacking, picking wickets at the cost of some runs in the middle. In terms of leadership and communication, Mahi still holds the key because he's the keeper and brings invaluable experience with him so it's important that we take valuable tips from him and take the team forward," Ashwin said as the players assembled ahead of the first ODI against England on Sunday.
"It (communication) will be different because of the kind of interactions we will have before and after. When I used to play alongside Mahi, which will not happen from this game onwards, it's almost about communicating through from top of the mark to wicket-keeper. Of course Virat will be around in short cover. We will try to get used to those communications. Virat on occasions can be aggressive, that's one thing I need to try and get adjust to. Also giving those extra runs for wicket is not a bad thing to do." Ashwin said after consistently playing the Test series against many teams, adjusting to the short format is a bit of challenge.
"It's more of a mental switch. We played a few T20s in America and I switched pretty well. I am sure it's going to be a challenge, next three days will be important I tried to tick as many boxes as possible when I practiced in Chennai."
Ashwin said coming into the new season after a splendid 2016 was not "excess baggage" for him. "It was a good year but it is done and dusted. You can't rest back on your laurels a lot. The game does not give you much time. 2017 is a new year, I am going to start afresh and try and get a good start. I would carry forward the confidence into the series but it's a different game with white ball and the white ball does not do enough off the wicket or in the air. It's lot in favour of batters, but you need to come terms with it and ensure you are one step ahead of the game," he said.
Dhoni's decision to make me open was career changing: Rohit
New Delhi: He has been one of India's most dependable batsman in ODIs and Rohit Sharma feels that outgoing captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's "decision" to make him open the batting in 50-over format was a "career-changing move".
"I believe the decision to open in ODIs changed my career and it was a decision taken by MS Dhoni. I became a better batsman after that. In fact it helped me understand my game better, react better according to situations," Rohit told PTI in an exclusive interview.
He first opened in early 2013 against England during the home series, scoring 80 odd runs and followed that up with a steady show in the Champions Trophy.
So does he remember how he was approached, Rohit recollects it was in customary MSD style -- in a very matter of fact manner.
"He (Dhoni) just came up to me and said 'I want you to open the innings as I am confident that you will do well. Since you can play both cut and pull shot well, you have the qualities to succeed as an opener'," Rohit said.
"He told me that I shouldn't be scared of failures or get upset by criticism. He was looking at the bigger picture as the Champions Trophy was scheduled in England that year," said Rohit, the only player in world cricket with two double hundreds in ODIs.
According to Rohit, Dhoni's reading of a player's ability is peerless. "The Champions Trophy in England made me confident that I can open and ready to face challenges of playing white ball in English conditions in the morning. I got 65 against South Africa, who had Morne Morkel, Ryan McLaren, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rory Kleinveldt. Morne and McLaren were hitting three quarter length and Tsotsobe was swinging it. The skipper was confident that I could handle the situation and I did," the world record holder for highest individual score in ODIs, said.
"With no disrespect to other great Indian captains, I was blessed to play under MS all these years. His calmness in pressure situations helped us. He always led from the front. There won't be one like him."
Rohit is recuperating from a thigh surgery after having sustained a muscle injury during the New Zealand ODIs. He is disappointed but takes it in his stride.
"You can't do anything about it and I have been in situations like this before. What disappointed me was the fact that the injury happened just when I was in rhythm scoring three successive 50s against New Zealand in Test matches. The pitches against England were good batting strips and it would have been enjoyable," he lamented.
Karun Nair hit a triple hundred against England. Does it make him insecure that he would have to fight with Karun once he is back from injury?
"I have never ever been an insecured person and the reason being I know how to move on in life. What would have happened if I wouldn't have got injured is irrelevant. The fact is Karun got his chance and played brilliantly and should be applauded. In fact, I saw a bit of it when Karun and KL (Rahul) were batting. It was top quality stuff," the senior pro lavished praise on the youngsters.
"But credit to Ashwin, Shami and Jadeja for bowling brilliantly in the series."
With no disrespect to other great Indian captains, I was blessed to play under MS all these years. His calmness in pressure situations helped us. He always led from the front. There won't be one like him.
- ROHIT SHARMA