'Five years that he led the team, he led from the front every time, we stepped onto the park, and there was clear grit and determination to win every game.'
Virat Kohli led India from the front for five years as the team's limited-overs captain, said his successor Rohit Sharma, insisting that he enjoyed "each and every moment" that he played under the star batter.
In his interaction with bcci.tv, Rohit spoke about how the team under Kohli had a "great time". Kohli stepped down as T20 captain after the World Cup in the UAE and was subsequently replaced by Rohit as ODI skipper earlier this month.
"Five years that he led the team, he led from the front every time, we stepped on to the park, and there was clear grit and determination to win every game, that was the message to the entire squad," Rohit said on the sidelines of the Indian Test squad's training session here ahead of the tour of South Africa later this month.
"We have had a great time playing under him (Kohli) and I have played a lot of cricket under him, I have enjoyed each and every moment, still continue to do that," he added, putting an end to all the conjectures that have floated about the professional relationship between the two.
The Indian team has aced criticism for not being able to win an ICC trophy since the 2013 Champions Trophy despite having proven and consistent match-winners in its ranks.
Rohit said he is aware of the challenge and would try to grab that extra inch that has eluded the side.
"There are lot of things that we need to do right before we think of end result. The last ICC trophy (Champions Trophy), we won was in 2013," he explained.
"...But I don't see anything wrong that we did after that Champions Trophy. We played well and performed as a team but just that we couldn't get that extra inch," he said.
"That can happen as international cricket is very demanding but that's the challenge as we are all professionals."
But he does feel that to win a global title, one needs to do a lot of things right.
"Lot of World Cups are coming and India will be eyeing to do well in lot of them. Our focus is on winning the championship but there is a process that we need to follow as a group.
"If you need to win the championship, there are lot of other things that you first need to take care of, then focus on the end goal."
The focus will be on getting better as a player first and then collectively as a team.
"...how you come out of tough challenges is very important and I think, in the past we have been put in those situations, where we have been 10/3 or 15/2 or something like that, we (have) failed to recover," he recalled.
"Something that we need to keep in mind moving forward, it's one of the areas. There are other areas we need to keep improving as a team and getting better as a team."
For him, one of his primary tasks is to ensure that each player is aware why he has been picked in the team and what is expected of him.
"I have got limited opportunities to lead Team India but whenever I have got an opportunity, I have tried to keep it simple, tried to keep one thing in common, clear communication to players," he said.
"I have tried making sure that they understand their roles, and that is what it is all about, understanding that role and going out there and performing that role.
"Because, for us, coach and captain, it is important that we have clear communication and that is what I want to do, making people understand why they have been picked in the team."
Rohit and new head coach Rahul Dravid worked together during the three-match T20 series against New Zealand and the new skipper is very happy with the start that they have had. The side won the rubber 3-0.
"Working with Rahul bhai, it was three-odd games but it was fantastic. We know how he has played his cricket, hard and tough.
"There has been a sense of relaxation as well, because it is important to keep the atmosphere light and cheerful," he said.