Virat Kohli is Indian Sportsperson of 2013
Hyderabad – Virat Kohli might be the new poster boy of Indian cricket but 26-year-old Rohit Sharma is not far behind. It has been a great six months for the Mumbai cricketer and after scoring the third highest double century in the history of ODI cricket, 209, (Sachin Tendulkar and Virendar Sehwag being the other two), Rohit got that much-deserved Test call-up recently and scored two centuries in succession.
In an interview before the recent South Africa test, Rohit recounted 2013.
“It has been a very fulfilling year,” says the Mumbai Indians captain, adding, “I knew when I chose to be a cricketer that sacrifices would be part and parcel of it. Through the highs and the lows, I make sure to stay focused on the bigger picture.”
But things haven’t been easy for Rohit, what with making his Test debut after playing 200 ODIs and being left out of the India squad for the World Cup. How does he cope with the ups and downs?
“I learned the meaning of ‘fortitude’. I am also lucky to have a very supportive family and great friends to help me stay grounded during the good times and to keep me believing in myself, during the bad ones.
“As for the pressure, it used to be unnerving at first but I feel I thrive on it now. And I don’t let criticism bring me down. People are entitled to their opinions and I use it to motivate me.”
Cricket, or for that matter most sports, make short-lived careers. Rohit made his Test debut at 25 (at that age Sachin Tendulkar had been playing for nine years). Does he think that one needs to make it in life by the time they are 30? “That depends on your idea of ‘making it’.
I personally feel that if you’ve found the thing you love to do and also found a way to have someone pay you to do it, then you’ve made it.
“Thirty years ago, the only careers that were held in high esteem were jobs in medicine, banking and law. But now, you can follow your passion and do just about anything.
“For example, my manager is a woman. Not too long ago it would be unheard of to have a female manager in a male-dominated sport, but times have changed.” And did he think 10 years ago that he would reach where he is today?
“We all start off dreaming big and we hope to achieve those dreams, but it still surprises us when those dreams come true.
My life now is so much more than I had ever dreamed. To be able to wake up everyday and represent my county is the best feeling in the world,” says Rohit.
Also, critics have complained in the past that while Rohit is immensely talented, he hasn’t pushed himself hard enough.
The batsman, however, feels otherwise. “I have always given cricket my 100 per cent. It is just that now I understand my game and my body a lot better than I did before.
Every time I set foot on a field, be it for India, for Mumbai or my IPL team, I give my best. Even gully cricket, just ask my neighbours and their broken windows.”
And yes, talking about the cutthroat competition in Indian cricket these days, where even a Sehwag or a Gambhir does not get a place in the team, Rohit says, “Cricket, in India has always been insanely competitive but the young blood has stepped things up a notch.
Complacency has no place in any sport and all of us keep each other on our toes. It’s a healthy competition though. We support each other through tough times and celebrate each other’s success.”