Kolkata: Mumbai Indians' Rohit Sharma, who stood in as skipper in their win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, has lauded Ricky Ponting's decision to step down from captaincy in the interest of the side.
Ponting, who has been struggling for runs in the tournament, had to sit out in order to accommodate fellow countryman and pacer Mitchell Johnson in the squad.
Specifying that it was Ponting's personal decision to step down, Sharma said, "It takes a lot of heart and guts to do that. We felt that we wanted to get the right combination and he was the one who stood up and said 'I would not be playing this game'."
Mumbai Indians tasted victory as Sharma led the side for the first time, and he said they were looking to continue in same vein.
"I felt really good when the management handed me the responsibility. I was little nervous initially as I was leading the side for the first time. But the nervousness went off after entering the field. I wanted to concentrate on what I need to do. I am very happy with the way I approached."
Having registered a fine victory under difficult conditions at the Eden Gardens, Sharma said: "It was our third away game on the trot. We have been playing good at home so we wanted to win as many away games as possible. This is one of them.
"Certainly we can move forward from here thinking that we play next two games in Mumbai. We know the conditions there," he added.
Mumbai Indians struggled in the middle after losing the wickets of Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard, before Harbhajan Singh calmed the nerves with a six in the last over.
"There is no point looking at the negatives. We have won the game, which is very important. There will be close games but it's important to get over the line. Knight Riders are a very good team at home. We got a win and we are very happy with the win at the end of the day," he said.
Backing his team, Sharma said they did well to restrict the Knight Riders to 159 after conceding 26 runs in the first over from Harbhajan Singh.
"Certainly it was not a good start. But the way we came back was really amazing. It can happen in this format, batsmen are there to make full use of the first six overs.
"This was one of those days when the first over did not go our away. We were trying a few things which did not work. But you got to see the positive side -- we came back really well in the last 10 overs," he said.
Sharma was also all praise for West Indian allrounder Smith and Lasith Malinga who bowled Manoj Tiwary and Debabrata Das with his toe-crushing yorkers in a fine last over that yielded just three runs.
"He has not been bowling badly. It just that he was not in the wicket-taking mode. He certainly proved what a dangerous bowler he could be. We always rely on Malinga a lot. We don't want to put unnecessary pressure on him. He gives more than 100 per cent for Mumbai Indians. He certainly showed what he's capable of. He will deliver for us in the coming games as well," he said.
Sharma further said that Smith's inclusion gives them many options.
"He gives us a lot of options on the field. He can be really dangerous with the bat, he can bowl a few good overs and is really good on the field. We wanted him to get a go because he has done well. And, he proved how dangerous he could be."
Story first published on: Thursday, 25 April 2013 09:36 IST