India batsman Rohit Sharma has said MS Dhoni improved his ODI career by asking him to open the batting in the format before the 2013 Champions Trophy in England. In his first match after the move, Rohit struck 83 off 93 balls against England in a successful chase of 258.
"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.
"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.
"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."
In India's successful campaign in the Champions Trophy, Rohit scored 177 runs and two fifties in five matches at an average of 35.40, including 65 off 81 balls in the tournament opener against South Africa. Later that year, he also scored 209 while opening against Australia in Bangalore and set a world record a year later against Sri Lanka by amassing 264 runs on his own.
"The Champions Trophy in England made me confident that I can open and ready to face challenges of playing the white ball in English conditions in the morning," Rohit said. "I got 65 against South Africa, who had Morne Morkel, Ryan McLaren, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rory Kleinveldt. Morne and McLaren were hitting a three-quarter length and Tsotsobe was swinging it. The skipper was confident that I could handle the situation and I did."
Rohit, currently recovering from a thigh surgery, a result of a muscle injury he suffered during the ODIs against New Zealand, said he required an additional "six to eight weeks" to regain full fitness.
"You can't do anything about it and I have been in situations like this before," Rohit said. "What disappointed me was the fact that the injury happened just when I was in rhythm scoring three successive fifties against New Zealand in Test matches.
"I have started running and from next week I will start with my batting drills. First the basic drills, followed by batting against bowling machine followed by proper net session."