Over the past few weeks, his team has transformed into an unstoppable force vanquishing everyone on its path to glory. But, in Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, India skipper Rohit Sharma also wants “luck to favour” his squad. “Now, the time has come that you need a little bit of luck as well to favour you, go your way. Obviously, we are going to be brave enough. And hopefully, fortune favours the brave,” Rohit said on the eve of the big-ticket game.
Rohit said the hosts will not be required to make big changes in regards to their mindset and approach just because they are headed into the semifinal clash.
India have been the most dominant team in this World Cup having won all their nine league matches to finish at the top of the points table and will face the Kiwis at the Wankhede Stadium in the first semifinal.
“(In) the first (half) of the tournament, if you see, I think we chased the first five games and then the next four games we batted first. In terms of the areas that we wanted to cover, we have covered almost every bit of it,” Rohit told the media in Mumbai before India’s only training session ahead of the semifinal game.
“But again, like I said, we do understand the importance of this week, but for us I do not think we need to do anything different from what we’ve been doing in this tournament,” he said.
The captain said pressure has always been a part of the journey for them as Indian cricketers and it will be no different when they take the field for the semifinal.
“Be it a league match or semifinal, the pressure is always there in a World Cup match. We have handled it well from the first game to the last. The team has responded well,” Rohit said.
“We are focusing on playing good cricket in the next two games. Pressure is always there on us as Indian cricketers. The need is to focus on the game and not on the pressure and challenges from the other side,” he added.
Rohit has respect for New Zealand whom he described as probably the “most disciplined” side in the competition, adding that they have a quality of reading the opposition very well.
“Whenever we have come up against New Zealand, (they are) probably the most disciplined team in terms of how they want to play the game. They play their cricket very smartly,” Rohit said.
“They understand the opposition quite well. Having played with a lot of our players in different stages of their careers, different tournaments, they do understand the mentality of the opposition. It is the same for us as well,” he added.
Rohit acknowledged that while the pressure has been there on his side to emulate the feat of the batches of 1983 under Kapil Dev and in 2011 under MS Dhoni, he said the only aspect that the current players are interested in is self-improvement.
“That is the beauty of this team. Half of the guys were not even born when we won our first World Cup. And then when we won our second World Cup in 2011, half of the guys were not even playing the game,” Rohit said.
“For us, this current crop of players, they are very much into what is happening today (and) what can happen tomorrow. Those are the things they try and focus on. I do not see them talking about how we won the last World Cup (or) how we won our first World Cup.
“The focus is on how they can get better as a player, what they can bring to the team and what are the things they need to improve,” he said.
Rohit said even though India’s past record of failing at the semifinal stage lingers on in the back of the minds, they do not pay much attention to it.
“It is obviously in the back of your mind, you know what has happened in the past. But what has happened in the past, is the past. What you can do today, what you can do tomorrow is what, you know, we usually talk about.
“I do not think there is much debate or much talk about what happened ten years ago or five years ago or the last World Cup as well,” he said.
Rohit refused to be drawn into the debate to call his team the “most dominant” Indian side ever.
“I do not think it will be the right thing for me to do that or say this is a dominant team. I think all (the) teams I was part of, I think they were quite dominant,” he said.
Rohit said India’s first goal in the tournament was to qualify for the semifinals, but in a long nine-match league stage in which they played at nine different venues, the team had to break down the tight schedule.
“Our first focus was to qualify from the league stages through to semifinals. And nine games is a lot of games – literally, two or three bilateral series to be honest. You have to break it down into games, different venues, you have to break it down into different strategies as well, different opposition you play,” he said.
With batting under lights proving to be extremely challenging here at the Wankhede Stadium in all World Cup games so far, Rohit said toss is not going to be a factor.
“I have played a lot of cricket here. These four or five games are not going to tell a lot about what Wankhede is. I do not want to talk too much about what Wankhede is. But I certainly believe that toss is not the factor,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Topics mentioned in this article