Barbados: India captain Rohit Sharma has reflected on ODI World Cup memories and looked ahead optimistically to a home campaign beginning in October, saying that the team needs to play well the entire month, month and a half, and be consistent to win the mega event.
While India may not have advanced past the semi-final stage in the last two Men’s Cricket World Cups, the skipper believes his side can emulate the 2011 success of his compatriots.
On hand during the Barbados leg of the Cricket World Cup 2023 Trophy Tour, posing with the prize on offer come November 19, Rohit expressed the importance of measure and patience in India’s preparation.
“We are back home again this year, so hopefully we can turn things around. It’s still a long way to go and we know you can’t win the World Cup in one or two days, you’ve got to play well the entire month, month and a half, and be consistent,” the India captain was quoted as saying by ICC.
“We are trying everything we can from our perspective to make sure we are ready for that World Cup,” he added.
For many, Rohit’s input with the bat will be vital during the tournament. Not only did he top the runs tally at the 2019 event (648 runs at 81) — he plundered five centuries at the tournament — and is under no illusions that for India to fire, he must go close to emulating his success four years ago even in the maelstrom of fanfare and pressure that comes with a home campaign.
Good mind space
“I was in a good mind space (in 2019), I was feeling really good about my cricket, prepared really well before the World Cup and when you’re heading into a tournament like that, all you want to do is start well, mentally and physically fresh and then everything falls into place,” Rohit added.
“I started really well in that tournament, got a hundred in the first game, and then for me, it was all about carrying that forward. Obviously you take a lot of confidence about what you’ve done in the past, but starting afresh and starting new was very important. I was in a great mind space at that point in time and looking forward to creating that again,” he added.
To find inspiration for the upcoming tournament, the 36-year-old reflected on some of his early World Cup memories, first citing Ajay Jadeja’s catch of Allan Border in 1992.
Running and diving to remove the dangerous left-hander, the catch to Rohit symbolises India’s move into modern-day limited overs cricket, evolving into the work of Sachin Tendulkar into the early 2000s.
“I remember famously, Ajay Jadeja’s catch. I remember that because that actually is stuck in everyone’s mind, even now. It took our fielding to the next level,” Rohit noted.
“I remember every little moment of all the World Cups. 1999 as well, the first thing that comes to mind is that Herschelle Gibbs catch which cost them the World Cup I believe. And then 2003 where India played really well up until the finals. Sachin Tendulkar was amazing with the bat,” he added.
As for India’s victorious 2011 campaign, the victory was somewhat bittersweet for the now-skipper, having to watch from home. He admits he debated watching the campaign at all after the disappointment of missing out on squad selection, but U-turned knowing how significant a global tournament victory would be for his country and colleagues.
“2011 was the memorable one for all of us, I remember watching it from home, every single match. There were two kinds of emotions. One obviously I was not part of it so I was a little disappointed and I decided I was not going to watch the World Cup,” Rohit said.
“But again the second memory I remember was that India was playing so well. Quarter-finals and onwards, the big quarter-final was against Pakistan and I know how much pressure is on the players when you play all these games, so I can only imagine what each player must have gone through in that time.
And then the semi-final against Australia, it was a brilliant finish by Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) and (Suresh) Raina at the back,” he added.
As for how India will get behind his men, and with a twinkle in his eye glancing at the Cricket World Cup trophy, the experienced batter knows his side will have the support of an entire nation.
“I know for a fact that every ground, every venue that we will be travelling to will get massive support,” Rohit said.
“It’s the World Cup, so everyone is looking forward to this and the World Cup coming back to India after 12 years. People are quite excited and we can see the buzz already back home. I’ll be looking forward to playing in all venues.
I have never seen this trophy from this close. When we won in 2011, I was not a part of the squad, but it is beautiful and has so many memories behind it. Hopefully we can lift it, fingers crossed,” he added.