'Tendulkar's presence in the dressing room will be missed'
For Rohit Sharma, it will be a debut series he will remember forever. He started with Test career with a bang hitting two centuries on the trot but what will stay with him is that it was the Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar’s last two games in cricket.
As Tendulkar bowed out with an emotional farewell, Rohit says the team does not know how they will overcome the absence of the batting icon.
"His presence in the dressing room will really be missed. It's not just about batting; it's about a lot of things that you need in yourself to succeed. All those things will be missed. I don’t know how the team members are going to react to the situations which we will be confronted with now on... now that we finally know that he will not be with the team any more. We need to get over this very quickly, but I don’t know how we’re going to do it. It's never going to be easy," Rohit said in Mumbai on Saturday after India crushed West Indies by an innings and 126 runs to clean sweep the series 2-0.
"There is one thing that we are going to be tormented by for the next few days that from now on Sachin Tendulkar will not play with us. This will keep on coming back to our hearts again and again," he added.
Image: Rohit Sharma
'It was very important for me to perform'
Rohit pointed out that the key thing that the young players have learnt from Tendulkar was how to conduct themselves off the field. His experience also came in handy for the young batsmen particularly when the Indian team toured overseas.
"First, he brings so much to the table. It’s not just about batting, but the way conduct yourself off the field is very important. This is something I've learnt personally, and I’m sure most of the team also has learnt this. These are the things that I feel will be really missed.
"When it comes to batting abroad, what sort of mindset you’ve got to have, and how you prepare... I still remember my first tour to South Africa in 2010, I remember having a chat with him, and that was the time I realised that playing abroad won't be easy. Also, 2008 went I went to Australia for the CB Series. These are the interactions I've had with him, from those interactions I realised that playing abroad is never easy," he said.
The Mumbai batsman finished as the highest run scorer for India in the two-match series with 228 runs with two centuries. He was delighted to have played a part in Tendulkar’s farewell series and take them to victory.
"It’s very important because I had never before played such a big match. This is my second Test, so this was very important for me to perform as an individual and help the team win. The team won, so I'm happy, and since I've contributed it’s all the more nice," he said.
Image: Rohit Sharma
'Whatever he said on the field was a very emotional speech'
Tendulkar ended his career on a high with a cracking knock of 74 in his final innings in Test cricket but many of his fans were disappointed that he could not go on to get a century.
"Yes, when a player scores a century, it’s good. But he has made so many centuries in 24 years, so even if he had not done anything in this game, we wouldn't have forgotten what he did in the last 24 years. He also wanted to get a century, he batted well and was out for 74. But what he has given us for 24 years, the wins and proud moments he has got for the team and country, we all are happy with that," he said.
Like everyone else, even Rohit was moved by Tendulkar’s farewell when he took the opportunity to relive his cricket journey and thank everyone involved along the way.
"Whatever he said on the field was a very emotional speech. We got were emotional. That shows his quality, he thanked each and everyone who supported him, stood behind him in his career. That really shows the great qualities of a great man.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar leads the team
'I just wanted to get enough of Sachin Tendulkar'
What was happening around, I really didn’t know how to react. I was looking at him all the time, whatever was happening around us, I wasn't focussing on that. Because I knew that this was the last time I'll be watching him in the whites. I just wanted to get enough of Sachin Tendulkar so that when I got back home, there would be something to think about," he said.
Tendulkar’s departure has freed the No. 4 slot in the Indian batting line-up but Rohit says he is not thinking of filling for the master batsman and is only looking to do well at every opportunity.
"I am not at all thinking about that. What he has done for Mumbai cricket, Indian cricket is huge. I have just started my Test career, there is a long way to go. I just want to enjoy my time in the middle, whenever I get an opportunity I will try to do well. I’m really not thinking about what I have to do if I have to replace him. There’s still a long way to go, my career is just two Test matches old. I have a long way to go," he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar