Kolkata: Rohit Sharma declared he "cherished leading from the front" even as he reminded that others too will have to come to the party if Mumbai Indians are to make a mark in IPL this year.
"We've got a great squad and depth in batting; we have to share responsibility," the skipper spelt it out for his team yesterday, the eve of their clash against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens. "Last year we didn't have anyone in the top five in batting (rankings), and that indicates shared responsibility. If you have to win a tournament, everyone will have to chip in."
Mumbai Indians staged one of the most remarkable turnarounds to lift the trophy last year, and have made another poor start by losing their opener to Rising Pune Supergiants by nine wickets.
How is he motivating the team after such a bad start? "This is a professional unit; you don't need to motivate anyone. Everyone knows what's expected of him," shot back Rohit, before putting things in perspective.
"It was disappointing but things like this can happen. We have rectified our mistakes and are hoping for a better game tomorrow (Wednesday)," he added, stressing that his team wasn't "carrying any baggage" from the Wankhede loss.
In the absence of the injured Lasith Malinga, Rohit places great hopes on 22-year-old Jasprit Bumrah. Malinga's return has been further complicated by reports that suggest he needs the Sri Lankan board's permission.
"Bumrah has evolved as a cricketer in the last few months. He has matured, become stronger and fitter. We have a lot of expectations from him but at the same time we don't want to put pressure on him."
Rohit said Kieron Pollard, coming out of another injury layoff, "should not be judged" so early. "It's tough when you're coming back from injury. A player like him can't be written off in just game; he's a matchwinner for us," Rohit reminded.
He spoke of the challenges "facing every team" at the start of an IPL. "First few weeks will be a big challenge. You buy a lot of players, release players. It's challenging to get the right combination. It's important to ensure that you have a settled squad as early as possible."