Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma, who has led the team to five titles in the history of IPL, on Wednesday said that the franchise have given him the opportunity to showcase himself in a different avatar.
IPL 2023 will mark the ten-year anniversary of Rohit Sharma taking charge of Mumbai Indians as the skipper. With five titles, he's the most successful captain in the tournament.
Ahead of the 16th season of the tournament, the skipper spoke about his long association with the franchise and said that he had loved every single moment of the journey.
"10 years is a long time. Obviously you are bound to create a lot of memories in 10 years in that period. I have certainly enjoyed each and every moment of it. If you ask me to single out a memory, I won't be able to do that because it is tough," said Rohit in the pre-season press conference.
Having first joined MI as a youngster in the 2011 season, Rohit has captained the team to each of their five titles. He took over the captaincy reins in the 2013 tournament and led the team to the title in his first year in charge.
"We have played some really good cricket over the years. My experience with this team has been phenomenal. This team has given me a great opportunity to come out and express myself, first as a player and then as a leader.
I have certainly grown as an individual and as a leader being a part of this team. MI has given me a great opportunity to showcase myself in a different avatar," he said speaking about his long and successful relationship with the franchise.
While most of the domestic Indian players have been a part of the pre-season camp, the overseas and India nationals have only joined the team over the past few days.
Mark Boucher, who will be coaching the team for the first time, said that the squad will play a couple of practice matches now that all the players are with the team. He also said that the team had prepared extensively for the season ahead.
"Tonight we will be playing another game, so it will give us a good idea of where we are as a squad and what we can achieve. Other than that, all our preparation has been going according to plan," Boucher said.
Rohit also touched upon the importance of the pre-season camp, saying, ,"We don't see the local, domestic Indian players much. That is why we hold a pre-season camp before the tournament starts to understand some of these guys.
A lot of the guys who are a part of this team, we know them pretty well now. It's just about finding the right combination with a couple of new rules coming in and fielding your best players on the ground."
Asked about the team's goal for the season, coach Boucher had an emphatic answer, "Win the trophy". The 35-year old Sharma explained how the team is focused on breaking the tournament down into stages and setting short-term goals in order to emerge victorious.
"Of course that's the end goal but we need to do a lot of things right to get there. IPL is such a long tournament, it goes on for close to two months and you have to play 16-17 games to hold that trophy and we do understand what it requires to do that.
The focus of the team will obviously be to break it down into two halves or three parts of the tournament and see where we stand and take things forward from there," the skipper said.
Coach Boucher said that his integration into the MI set up has been seamless. "It has been very good so far. It is completely different to coaching in international cricket. I get to spend more time at home, which is nice.
The sort of professionalism that Mumbai Indians show and the attention to detail has been exemplary. The support staff has been fantastic as well," he said. "I'm well aware that I need to deliver the results and hopefully we can get them.
I set myself high standards and it'll be the same for the players as well. I'm not here to get third place or fourth place, I'm here to win. I have been given everything that I want, so from that perspective, it has been great," he added.
Mumbai Indians will begin their IPL 2023 campaign against Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 2.