India’s T20I vice-captain also “excited” to work with new captain and “great guy” Rohit Sharma
“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve known him for a very long time,” Rahul said in a press conference two days out from India’s first T20I against New Zealand in Jaipur. “Obviously as a youngster I did try and pick his brain and I did understand the game better, and understand the art of batting better from [having talked to] him, and he’s been more than kind and he’s been very helpful to all of us back home in Karnataka.
“Obviously since he’s finished playing he’s been [coaching] different teams and he’s been helping the boys around the country, so to have him here with this set-up is a great opportunity for all of us to learn from him. We all know what a big name Rahul Dravid is in Indian cricket and the kind of things he has done for our country. So it’ll be a great opportunity and great time for all of us to learn from him and get better as cricketers and understand the game better, and understand the game from his point of view.
“When it comes to coaching, I’ve played a couple of games with the India A set-up [under Dravid], and we’ve had a small chat just before coming out here for training, and he’s somebody who’s big on setting a good team culture and creating an atmosphere where people are thriving and trying to get better as people and as cricketers. He’s always been a team man when he was playing, and that’s the kind of culture he wants to bring in here as well, where everyone’s putting the team ahead of personal goals.”
“There’s nothing new about Rohit being captain,” Rahul said. “For as long as I can remember, he’s been Mumbai Indians’ captain, and his stats are there for everybody to see. He has a great understanding of the game and tactically he’s really, really good, and that’s why he’s been able to achieve the kind of things that he has as a leader.
“We all enjoy watching Rohit bat and we all enjoy having him in the dressing room. He’s a great guy to be around, so I’m sure he’s excited and all of us in the team are excited to play under Rohit and he’ll bring a lot of calm into the dressing room.
“The next few weeks or the next few days will be exciting, to understand what kind of goals he has and what kind of culture and – I got asked this question before – what kind of template we’re looking to play. The more we talk to him in the next couple of days, I’ll also understand it better and maybe be able to give you that answer the next time I have this conversation. It’s a big change in Indian cricket, so we’re all looking forward and really excited about it.”
As for his own role as vice-captain, Rahul said he would try to work with the rest of the leadership group to build a secure team environment for the players.
“I think it’s a collective effort,” Rahul said. “Whatever happens in a team sport, it’s always a collective decision, and the leadership group becomes really important in making sure that everybody’s feeling comfortable, everybody is clear about their roles, everybody is feeling secure in the team, and I think that will be an exciting challenge for all of us, to create that kind of environment, and we’re really looking forward to it.”