India's Rohit Sharma
India's Rohit Sharma celebrates after scoring a half-century (50 runs) during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between India and Australia at The Oval in London on June 9, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

London: Indian opener and vice-captain Rohit Sharma looks a transformed batsman in this World Cup. In the first match, he scored a patient and unbeaten 122 and followed it up with a knock of 57 against Australia that laid the foundation for a big score at the Oval on Sunday.

The Mumbaikar has always been on top form, especially against Australia, but wants to remain consistent against all teams. Sharma’s century against South Africa was his 23rd ODI hundred and his half-century against Australia is his 42nd fifty. He has piled up 8189 runs from his 208 matches as is now in third among century makers for India after Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.

Did he ever believe five years ago when he started opening for India that he would be among the top three rungetters in this format? “Personally, I don’t look into all of that. I don’t look into going past someone or getting close to someone. As long as I’m playing, I want to make sure that I do the job for the team. Whatever happens along the way will keep happening. That is an external reward for it. But for me, it’s always been going and getting the job done for the team and that’s what always I have focused on.”

Talking about how it was to open the innings, he said: “When I started opening the innings, of course it was challenging because I’ve never done that before in international cricket, but I’ve come a long way since then until today. It’s through the hard work and understanding what I can deliver as a batsman and that is what I have focused on.”

Sharma is hoping that his form will continue for some time. “The journey will continue and those milestones that you’re talking about, I mean, regardless of what happens, I just want to make sure that as many games as I play, I make my team win as many games as possible. That’s the sole and whole job of me as a batsman. Yeah, along the way, you get rewards. I will take it any day.”

His skipper Kohli had hailed his century against South Africa. When asked about it, Sharma said: “I think it was a massive confidence booster in terms of heading into the tournament. All the cricketers in this tournament want to start well and it gives you that momentum going into the tournament. Talking about this particular innings, I felt it was not the way I would like to play. Something unusual for me, but obviously you have to respect the conditions, at times the bowlers as well.”

Sharma then explained why he would rate the match-winning century among his best. “I would rate that knock among the best at the top because it was not the easiest of the conditions. Although, yes, we were not chasing such a high score but still, it was not that easy. Throughout the hundred overs that we played, there was something in for the bowlers. At times you have to go with your natural instinct and try and bat the condition rather than batting your own batting. So that was a bit challenging, but of course that is what the team expects from experienced players.”