'It came at the right time to me which has certainly helped my batting'
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma said leading the side in the ongoing Indian Premier League has helped him evolve as a better batsman.
Rohit was handed over the captaincy of Mumbai Indians midway through the tournament following Ricky Ponting's poor form and the right-hander has thrived in his new role, amassing 526 runs with the bat so far in IPL 6.
"When it (captaincy) came to me, it was a huge challenge. I was ready for it. It did not come to me as a surprise. Last two years, I was the vice-captain. I was kept in the loop about taking that responsibility. It came at the right time to me which has certainly helped my batting a lot," Rohit said on Monday, on the eve of the first play-off between Mumbai Indian and Chennai Super Kings at the Feroze Shah Kotla in New Delhi.
"I am spending the time in the middle more. It's really reflecting on (my performance). I am very happy with the way the things have gone so far," he said.
Image: Rohit Sharma
'We need to play consistent cricket'
Mumbai Indians will take on an equally impressive Chennai Super Kings in a "battle of equals" in the first play-off and Rohit said both the teams would be relying on their impact players like Kieron Pollard and Mike Hussey.
"I am not doubting them (CSK). They are a very good side. We need to play consistent cricket and need to up the ante by just 10 per cent. We have beaten them in both the games in the league phase, so obviously pressure will be on them," he said.
Rohit said a call on Sachin Tendulkar's availability will be taken on Tuesday ahead of the match. Tendulkar is recuperating from a sprain in his left hand while hitting a six against Sunrisers Hyderabad last week.
"We don't know yet. We will take a call on him (Tendulkar) tomorrow," he said.
Image: Rohit Sharma
'Johnson has been brilliant for us'
In the bowling department, Mitchell Johnson (22 wickets) and Harbhajan Singh (19 wickets) have been consistent for Mumbai Indians and Rohit largely credited the duo for the team's success thus far.
"Johnson has been brilliant for us. He has been getting early breakthroughs for us which is very important in this format of the game. If he continues to do what he has been doing for us, it will be great for us. He has got the experience behind him. He did it for Australia for so may years. He has been the best bowler in the tournament.
"Harbhajan along with Johnson is probably there in the top 10. I cannot single out anyone, it's been a team effort. Bhajji has been really fantastic for us, getting 19 wickets in a tournament something which you expect from him. He has helped us in reaching the play-offs," the skipper said.
Rohit, however, refused to buy talks that both Mumbai and Chennai would miss the home advantage.
"I don't believe in home and away advantage. You need to play good cricket at the end of the day and results will fall in place. Chennai are also playing away and I think they don't have a good away record.
"The condition would be the same for both the teams. Both won't be enjoying the home advantage. We have to play good cricket to win the game," he said.
Image: Rohit Sharma (left) with Harbhajan Singh