24-year-old Kumar Kartikeya thanked Rohit Sharma for backing him immensely at the Mumbai Indians (MI) during the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL). Kartikeya played only four matches for the five-time IPL champions and picked up five wickets at an excellent economy rate of 7.84.
The young tweaker said that Rohit made him comfortable when he had butterflies in his stomach. Kartikeya said that the MI skipper gave him the freedom to bowl his heart out without worrying too much.
The Uttar Pradesh-born Kartikeya said that it becomes easy for a cricketer in the middle when a captain shows faith in him/her.
"When he (Rohit Sharma) told me in the team meeting that I was going to play, I was a bit nervous and he spotted that,” Kartikeya was quoted as saying in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.
"But then he took me outside the room and personally told me that 'Don't worry at all. I will handle everything. Just bowl the way you do in the Ranji Trophy fearlessly. I will always support you whether you go for runs or pick wickets. So don't worry, just bowl like you do in the nets. It's not easy to hit you for runs.'
"So when your captain backs you this much, you automatically perform well," he added.
Kartikeya was recently a part of the Madhya Pradesh team that won the Ranji Trophy for the first time. He picked up one wicket in the first innings and followed it up with a four-wicket haul in the second.
Madhya Pradesh went on to beat 41-time champions Mumbai by six wickets at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.