In many ways, IPL 2017 is a comeback for Rohit Sharma. Having spent five months recovering from a thigh injury, and then a little niggle in his knee, he is ready to lead Mumbai Indians for the fifth season in a row.
However, it was not so long ago that Rohit feared for his well-being. "To be honest, I was scared when that [injury] happened," he said. "It's something which has never happened to me. I heard a very loud noise while taking a run. I was little scared until we got an MRI done, I did not know what to expect and what it was.
"We spoke to a lot of doctors around and with Patrick [Farhat, the India physiotherapist] as well. They all gave me the confidence saying it was not a major problem; it's just a small injury that you need to go through. Being a sportsperson, you have to be strong. I went through it quite comfortably."
Rohit admitted the time spent away, at the National Cricket Academy in Benguluru for rehabilitation, had been difficult for him considering it coincided with his starting to make headway into India's Test XI. He could play only three of the 13 home Tests, and did particularly well against New Zealand on a seaming pitch in Kolkata, before he picked up the injury in the subsequent ODI series and was ruled out of the rest of the season.
"It was tough to sit in the hotel room, watching the team play. It is always tough. But I guess you have to go through it. I have been through it many times before," he said. "When you know you are injured, doing your rehab and stuff. It is hard to be in that position and see the team play. The most important thing for me was not to get frustrated and do unnecessary or unwanted things. So I was completely focussed on my rehab and make sure these things don't happen in the future."
One of the challenges, Rohit highlighted, was regaining some of his lost strength. "Credit to the NCA staff for putting that effort. When you have a big injury you tend to lose a lot of muscle and that weakens your strength a bit. So the big challenge for me was to gain that muscle back first and become a lot stronger. There were a lot of things I focussed on and thankfully, I am back on my feet and ready to play."
Having represented Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare Trophy earlier this month, Rohit had to pull out of the Deodhar Trophy with knee problems. However, after getting through a full 40 overs at a practice game while preparing for the IPL, he felt confident that his body was in good enough shape to handle the rigours of competitive cricket again.