It was fitting that on his first Father’s Day as a new dad, Rohit Sharma should produce a match-winning performance for India – especially as he credits his daughter for his current stellar form.
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Sharma’s wife Ritika gave birth to the couple’s first child, Samaira, back in December and the opener claims that life-changing moment off the field has provided him with the serenity needed to excel out in the middle.
Pakistan certainly won’t argue that the 32-year-old wasn’t at his brilliant best as he plundered 140 from just 113 balls, helping his side to a convincing 89-run win at Old Trafford.
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That knock also means Sharma joins Sachin Tendulkar, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli (twice) as the only men to score 50+ in five consecutive ODI innings for India, so Samaira’s impact has clearly been potent.
“The space I’m in right now is a very good place in my life,” smiled Sharma. “Having a newly-born daughter has put me in a good space.
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“I’m enjoying my cricket, I was coming off a great IPL campaign and have started well at this World Cup.
“We know how important it is to start well at a World Cup, so the focus was on that first of all. As a team, we’re heading in the right direction. It’s important to keep ticking all the boxes.
“The crowd comes to matches for entertainment and we were really good as a team. We really wanted those two points following the washout last time and we wanted to display our skills because we’ve been in good form.”
Sharma was opening the batting with a new partner in KL Rahul, due to Shikhar Dhawan’s hand injury.
The duo appeared to click instantly, putting on 136 for the first wicket – a record opening partnership in an ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan.
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That set a perfect platform for India to reach 336/5, establishing a strong position that they turned into victory, and Sharma says everything went to plan.
“The crucial phase of the innings was the first phase and not losing a wicket was vital,” he added. “As an opener, it’s your job to make sure you don’t lose too many wickets up front.
“In conditions like that, it’s more of a new-ball game and the opposition can put pressure on you if they get going. We wanted to build a platform and tried to take the game forward after that.
“It was KL’s first game as an opener for India, so I wanted to make sure he was comfortable.
“There’s a challenge you face in terms of understanding – when he wants to run two, when I want to take singles and things like that.
“We had lots of communication out there and hopefully we can build on it now I know he will be opening for the next few games.”
(With ICC inputs)