India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 3rd day November 16, 2013

Tendulkar loss hard to cope with - Rohit

N Hunter

Rohit Sharma, who won the Player-of-the-Series award for scoring match-winning centuries in his first two Tests, has said that he has no idea how the Indian dressing room will cope with the absence of Sachin Tendulkar. Rohit admitted that the Indian players will be "tormented" by Tendulkar's retirement and the even if the best way was to move forward it would not be an easy task.

"The team won, so I'm happy, and since I've contributed it's all the more nice. But there's one thing that we're going to be tormented by for the next few days, that from now on Sachin Tendulkar will not play with us," Rohit said. "This will keep on coming back to our hearts again and again."

Rohit pointed out that over the years Tendulkar had become many things to different people - a coach, a mentor, a friend, a guardian - and hence the loss would be deeper. "His presence in the dressing room will really be missed. It's not just about batting, it's about a lot of things that you need in yourself to succeed. All those things will be missed," he said. "I don't know how the team members are going to react to the situations which we'll be confronted with now on, now that we finally know that he will not be with the team any more. We need to get over this very quickly, but I don't know how we're going to do it. It's never going to be easy. Just an hour back you saw what happened at the ground, that shows what sort of a man he was, what he brought to Indian cricket."

Personally for him, Rohit said, Tendulkar was just a call away or a five-minute walk from his home. From 2008, Rohit said, Tendulkar had been contributing in some way to his career. "First, he brings so much to the table. It's not just about batting, but the way to conduct yourself off the field is very important. This is something I've learnt personally, and I'm sure most of the team also has learnt this. These are the things that I feel will be really missed.

"When it comes to batting abroad, what sort of mindset you've got to have, and how you prepare... I still remember my first tour to South Africa in 2010, I remember having a chat with him, and that was the time I realised that playing abroad won't be easy. Also, 2008 went I went to Australia for the CB Series. These are the interactions I've had with him, from those interactions I realised that playing abroad is never easy," Rohit said.

Rohit walked into the press conference nearly an hour after the match had ended during which Tendulkar had been felicitated by the Mumbai Cricket Association and then taken across the Wankhede aloft his team-mates' shoulders. Rohit admitted seeing Tendulkar in whites for the last time was an unbearable moment for him. "Whatever he said on the field was a very emotional speech. We got were emotional. That shows his quality, he thanked each and everyone who supported him, stood behind him in his career. That really shows the great qualities of a great man," he said.

Hungry to get whatever he could out of observing his hero, Rohit did not blink much, afraid he would miss something. "What was happening around, I really didn't know how to react. I was looking at him all the time, whatever was happening around us, I wasn't focusing on that. Because I knew that this was the last time I'll be watching him in the whites. I just wanted to get enough of Sachin Tendulkar so that when I got back home, there would be something to think about."

Now that Tendulkar has gone, the attention would shift to finding a fitting replacement to occupy the No.4 position in Tests, which Tendulkar held for such a long time. Virat Kohli, who has been batting at No.5 is the favourite to climb one rung but Rohit was not interested speculating and wanted to keep the focus still on Tendulkar. "I'm not at all thinking about that. What he has done for Mumbai cricket, Indian cricket is huge. I've just started my Test career; there is a long way to go. I just want to enjoy my time in the middle, whenever I get an opportunity I'll try to do well. I'm really not thinking about what I have to do if I have to replace him. There's still a long way to go, my career is just two Test matches old," Rohit said.