Kolkata: After leading Mumbai Indians to its maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title, skipper Rohit Sharma described the victory as the perfect farewell gift to batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who bid adieu to the cash-rich league.
"It was disappointing not to have Sachin in the last few games. Nonetheless, we are happy that we could give him the perfect farewell by winning the trophy," Sharma said Sunday after his side registered a 23-run victory over Chennai Super Kings at the Eden Gardens here.
Tendulkar, who missed the last few games, including the final, due to a wrist injury, announced after the match that it was his last IPL.
Describing captaincy as a challenge and a learning curve, Sharma expressed his indebtedness to Tendulkar and senior pro Ricky Ponting for guiding him.
"Captaincy was a good challenge and it's been a great experience and a learning curve. It has been a great journey with ups and downs and I am fortunate that I had seniors like Sachin and Ponting to guide me through in tough times," said Sharma, who took over reins of the team midway into the tournament after a struggling Ponting stepped aside in the interest of the team.
"Despite Sachin not playing in the last few games, he has been totally involved keeping an eye on the proceedings and sharing his experience. Ponting, the great batsman that he is, has been helping batsmen, including me. It is a privilege to lead such a talented side," said the middle-order batsman.
Sharma said he was not a "taskmaster" and his mantra as captain was to keep things simple and retain his calm and composure.
He also praised Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu, who stitched together an important 36-run partnership to bail Mumbai out of trouble after they were reduced to 16/3.
Sharma also had words of admiration for his bowlers, especially pacer Lasith Malinga, who struck twice in the first over to seize the initiative for Mumbai.
On the flip side though, the Mumbai skipper was fined $20,000 after the team maintained a slow over rate. At the end of the match, Mumbai Indians were assessed to be three overs behind the required rate.