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Tri-series will be a challenge: Sharma

Last updated on: January 31, 2008 11:14 IST

Many feel he is the best cricketer to emerge from Mumbai after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. But though it is still early to make a call on that assessment, Rohit Sharma has certainly impressed since making his international debut in June last year.

The 20-year-old's half-century against South Africa was a vital contribution in India's Twenty20 World Cup triumph. While his blazing 50, off just 40 deliveries, helped India storm into the semi-finals of the tournament, his sharpness on the field also caught the eye.

Though yet to establish a place in the one-day team, Rohit has already shown enough potential to stake claim for a place in the middle order.

He impressed during the 2006-07 Ranji Trophy season, smashing a brilliant 205 against Gujarat in December 2006, and followed it up with a half-century in the final, as Mumbai beat Bengal. However, the 2007-08 season was not as happy for the youngster; he could scored just 191 runs in five matches as Mumbai were knocked out in the preliminary stages.

The disappointments firmly behind him now, he is looking towards the future. And first and foremost on his agenda is the upcoming tri-series in Australia that also involves Sri Lanka.

"It's going to be the toughest tour. I have toured Australia before with India 'A'. I have an idea of how the conditions and wickets will be like, so I am preparing accordingly," he told in Mumbai before departing for the series.

"I think you need to be mentally very tough when playing against a tough side like Australia. You need to keep backing your abilities and be confident that you can do well. And if you got the potential then you will certainly do well," Rohit added.

The 20-year-old says the recently-concluded Test series has given him a fair idea of the wickets and conditions Down Under.

"I have been watching the Tests matches. In Sydney the wicket was a bit slow, but in Melbourne and Perth the ball comes on to the bat nicely. So, I am preparing accordingly," he said.

Rohit feels it is a good opportunity for the young players in the team to make a mark and repay the faith the selectors have shown in them.

"I don't think there will be any pressure, but it will be a challenging tour for all of us in the absence of some senior players. There will be some pressure, but more than the pressure you should accept it as a challenge. If you overcome then there is nothing like it," he said.

Rohit says the team will try and follow the same principles they persisted with en route to winning the Twenty20 World Cup last year.

"We will try and do the same thing what we did in South Africa last year [when India won the Twenty20 World Cup]. The important thing is that we need to be tough, mentally. Even though we didn't have a good series in Australia our confidence is very high, especially after the victory in the third Test at Perth," he said.

Quizzed whether he would prefer batting high up the order, he replied: "Definitely, I would like to bat up the order, but it is up to the captain and team management to decide on the batting order."

He also insisted that his horror domestic season is firmly behind him, as was evident in the good form he showed for his club, Indian Oil, and during a stint at the Mumbai Cricket Association's academy at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, on wickets similar to those in Australia.

"I didn't have a good season in the Ranji Trophy, but after that I played a few games for my club. I did well in those games and I am pretty confident now," he said.

Photographs: Getty Images

Harish Kotian