Over the past few weeks, his team has transformed into an unstoppable force, defeating everyone on their way to glory. But in Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, India captain Rohit Sharma also wants “luck to favour” his team. “Now the time has come when you also need a little bit of luck to favor you, go your way. Obviously, we will be brave enough. And hopefully luck favors the brave,” Rohit said on the eve of the big ticket game.
Rohit said the hosts will not be required to make major changes in terms of their mindset and approach just because they are heading into the semi-finals.
India have been the most dominant team in this World Cup having won all their nine league matches to finish top of the points table and will face the Kiwis at the Wankhede Stadium in the first semi-final.
“(In) the first (half) of the tournament, if you look, I think we chased the first five games and then the next four games, we hit first. In terms of the areas we wanted to cover, we covered almost every part of it,” Rohit told the media in Mumbai ahead of India’s only practice session ahead of the semi-final.
“But again, as I said, we understand the importance of this week, but for us I don’t think we need to do anything different than what we have done in this tournament,” he said.
The captain said that 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 semi-finals.
“Whether it is a league match or semi-final, the pressure is always there in a World Cup match. We have handled it well from the first match to the last. The team has responded well,” Rohit said.
“We are focusing on playing good cricket in the next two matches. There is always pressure 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, who he described as probably the “most disciplined” side in the competition, adding that they have a quality to read the opposition very well.
“When we have faced 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 many of our players at different stages of their careers, different tournaments, they understand the mentality of the opposition. It’s the same for us too,” he added.
Rohit acknowledged that while the pressure has been there on his side to emulate the feat of the party in 1983 under Kapil Dev and in 2011 under MS Dhoni, he said the only aspect the current players are interested in is self-improvement.
“That’s the beauty of this team. Half the guys weren’t even born when we won our first World Cup. And then when we won our second World Cup in 2011, half the guys hadn’t even played the game, Rohit said.
“For us, this current crop of players, they’re very interested in what’s happening today (and) what could happen tomorrow. Those are the things they’re trying to focus on. I don’t 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 improve as a player, what they can bring to the team and what are the things they need to improve,” he said.
Rohit said that while India’s previous record of failing in the semi-finals lingers in the back of their minds, they don’t pay much attention to it.
“It’s obviously in the back of your mind, you know what’s happened in the past. But what’s 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 don’t think there’s much debate or much talk about what happened ten years ago or five years ago or the last World Cup either,” he said.
Rohit refused to be drawn into the debate for calling his team the “most dominant” Indian side ever.
“I don’t think it’s going to be right for me to do that or say this is a dominant team. I think all (the) teams I was a part of think they were pretty dominant, ” he said.
Rohit said India’s first goal in the tournament was to qualify for the semi-finals, but in a long nine-match league phase where 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 to the semi-finals. 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, different oppositions you play,” he said.
As batting under lights has proved extremely challenging here at the Wankhede Stadium in all World Cup matches so far, Rohit said pitching will not be a factor.
“I’ve played a lot of cricket here. These four or five games aren’t going to tell much about what Wankhede is. I don’t want to talk too much about what Wankhede is. But I definitely think pitching is not the factor,” he said.
(With the exception of the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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