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“Current crop of players don’t talk about how we won World Cups in 1983, 2011”: Rohit Sharma ahead of semifinal clash

Mumbai : Ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, Indian captain Rohit Sharma acknowledged the inherent pressure in every World Cup match. He said that his team’s focus is on putting aside external factors and concentrating on the game and the present moment.

India will take on New Zealand in the first semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on Wednesday.

As Kiwi aim to secure their third consecutive World Cup final appearance after 2015 and 2019, India is determined to overcome the knockout barrier that has eluded them since their last major ICC title in 2013. Additionally, the challenge is heightened by facing a team that has historically posed significant challenges in must-win matches.

Ahead of the match, skipper Rohit said in the pre-match press conference, “See right from the first match we played, there ought to be a lot of pressure since these are World Cup matches. We did well on-field and handled the pressure well. In upcoming matches too we are looking to play good cricket the way we have played so far. We would like to focus on our game and the opposition.”

“There is noise from outside that we have to win the game, score a 100, get a five-wicket haul. We are used to such things. We are focusing on the game and the challenges of opposition in hand,” he added.

On players like Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav and even himself bowling in the final league game against the Netherlands, Rohit said that from match one of the World Cup, there was a focus on creating more bowling options and letting other non-regular bowlers roll their arm. “When Hardik Pandya was injured, our combination was disturbed. We have our options but I hope we do not need them. In the last time, we could have others bowl as the situation let us do it,” he added. Questioned on how New Zealand has impressed him, Rohit said, “They are probably the most disciplined team with regards to how they want to play. They play some smart cricket and understand their opponents well. They have played with a lot of our players at different tournaments and stages and they understand us well too. They have been very consistent since 2015 especially, reaching semis and finals of various tournaments. We are following every team, their strengths and weakness and on basis of that, we try to play our game.”

On India’s past World Cup wins in 1983 and 2011, Rohit said that the current crop of players is focused on the present and self-improvement.

“When we won the first World Cup, none of us were born. When we won the second World Cup in 2011, half of us did not even start playing. The current crop of players we have is not talking about how we won those two World Cups, but rather about how they can get better, bring something of value to the team and what things they need to improve,” said Rohit.

Questioned on the team’s relaxed atmosphere and activities like giving out ‘Fielder of the Match’ medals, Rohit said that there has been a conscious effort from the team to keep the atmosphere happy and relaxed since when one takes the field, he comes under performance pressure.

“We have made a conscious effort that the team’s atmosphere should not depend on match outcome. In Dharamshala, we did a lot of team activities like a fashion show. We want to stay relaxed because once you are in the ground, there is the pressure of performance. It is upto the individuals on how they want to approach the game,” said Rohit.

Rohit said that he is not focused on his own journey as a player and will only think about it after November 19, the day of tournament’s grand finale at Ahmedabad.

“Till then, it is pure business and about getting the job done for the team,” said Rohit.

The skipper said that one has to follow certain processes during such a big tournament and the first focus of the team was to qualify for semis.

“Nine games in the league stage are a lot. It is equal to two or three bilateral series. You have to break it down to different games, opposition and venues and hence strategies. It was about breaking things into parts and taking things forward. Playing nine games against nine teams at different places requires you to follow different strategies, methods and policies. We did that really well. In the first four games, we won while chasing then we won while batting first for the rest of the game. We do not have to do anything different from what we have done so far,” said Rohit.

India squad:
Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Prasidh Krishna, Suryakumar Yadav.

New Zealand squad:
Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.

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