Copy of 2023-11-04T075058Z_1714109932_UP1EJB40LSX18_RTRMADP_3_CRICKET-WORLDCUP-NZL-PAK-1699794001050
New Zealand's Rachin Ravindra celebrates after reaching his century during the Cricket World Cup match against Pakistan at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, on November 4. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: New Zealand’s new batting sensation and opener Rachin Ravindra is excited about the prospect of meeting India in front of a packed house at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

The Black Caps will face Rohit Sharma’s men in the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup on Wednesday.

“It’s like a dream you know,” the 23-year-old, who’s had a sensational run so far in the tournament said. “We were thinking about the previous World Cups where Kiwis played Australia at the MCG and then England at the Lord’s in the final last World Cup. Now playing against India in Wankhede, which has so much history, is going to be an awesome experience. It’s a dream of playing in front of a full crowd against India, who have gone unbeaten in the tournament so far.

“We’ll stay level, we’ll try our best. We know we can’t win every game of cricket ... but we’ll see how it plays out,” he added.

Makes history

The opener, who has notched up three centuries at this World Cup so far, has made history by the scoring most runs in a maiden World Cup, going past England’s Jonny Bairstow (532). He has also surpassed his namesake Sachin Tendulkar (532) — Rachin is a mix of two Indian legends, Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid — with most runs in a World Cup for an under-25 player.

“It’s a pretty special moment,” he said on Kiwis entering the knock-out stage. “The way the Black Caps have been playing for the last three to four World Cups and being in a stage to compete for finals is big. For me it’s a dream to be playing the knock-out games and I’m really excited.”

Born in New Zealand to Indian parents, Ravindra said it had been “surreal” to hear his name chanted by local crowds. “It’s a pretty surreal feeling. I am grateful for the support, especially playing in Bengaluru. I dreamt of it as a child. I feel very happy to be here and you feel the energy and vibe,” said Ravindra, who earned his first ICC’s Player of the Month award recently.

“I’m very honoured,” he said of the award. “If you look at the names nominated on that list, it’s pretty special to be among the greats of the game. I don’t necessarily play for personal accolades but the recognition is always nice from the governing body.

“Doing it for the team, that’s the beauty of it. You might end up with that award a few times in your career, but I think if you’re contributing to winning cricket, that’s what matters to me.”

Meeting grandmother

Ravindra also had the opportunity to meet his grandmother in Bengaluru. He shared a video of their meeting on social media. “It’s so special. Growing up here [Bengaluru] I have some great memories. I get to connect with my family and it’s more special to qualify for the knock-outs while playing here. I love playing here and I hope I get to play more in the future here.”

Ravindra said he was lucky to have Devon Conway as his opening partner. “It’s definitely comforting. We know each other so well. There are definitely times when Devon keeps me in check or you know keeps me honest. We have spent a lot of time together and we have coached each other and know each other’s games so well.”