India captain Rohit Sharma reflected on his World Cup memories and looked ahead to a home campaign starting in October.
While India may not have progressed beyond the semi-finals in the last two ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups, the skipper believes his side can emulate the success of his compatriots in 2011.
In hand during the Barbados leg of the ICC Men’s Cricket Trophy Tour 2023, posing with the prize on offer on November 19, Rohit expressed the importance of moderation and patience in India’s preparation.
“We’re back at home again this year, so hopefully we can turn things around,” Rohit said.
“It’s still a long way and we know you can’t win the World Cup in one or two days, you have to play well for the whole month, month and a half and be consistent.
“We’re trying everything we can from our point of view to make sure we’re ready for this World Cup.”
For many, Rohit’s contribution with the bat will be crucial during the tournament.
Not only did he top the scoresheet in the 2019 event (648 runs off 81) – he plundered five centuries in the tournament – and he is under no illusions that for India to fire, he must come close to emulating his success four years ago and in the whirlwind of fanfare and pressure that comes with a home campaign.
“I was in a good frame of mind (in 2019), I felt really good about my cricket, prepared really well before the World Cup and when you go into a tournament like that, all you want to do is get off to a good start. mentally and physically fresh and then everything falls into place,” added Rohit.
“I started really well in this tournament, I got a hundred in the first game and then for me, all I had to do was build on that.
“Obviously you have a lot of confidence in what you’ve done in the past, but to start over and start fresh was really important. I was in a great headspace at the time and I couldn’t wait to recreate it.”
To find inspiration for the upcoming tournament, Rohit reflected on some of his earliest World Cup memories, first mentioning Allan Border’s catch by Ajay Jadeja in 1992.
Running and diving to remove the dangerous left-hander, Rohit’s catch symbolizes India’s transition to modern limited-overs cricket, which evolved from the work of Sachin Tendulkar in the early 2000s.
“I remember famously, Ajay Jadeja’s catch. I remember it because that is really stuck in everyone’s mind, even now. It took our fielding to the next level,” noted Rohit.
“I remember every little moment of all the World Cups. Also in 1999 the first thing that comes to mind is Herschel Gibbs caught which cost them the World Cup I believe.
“And then 2003 where India played really well till the finals. Sachin Tendulkar was amazing with the bat.”
As for India’s victorious campaign in 2011, the victory was somewhat bittersweet for the now-skipper, who had to watch from home.
The 36-year-old admits he debated watching the campaign after the disappointment of missing out on squad selection, but it turned out he knew how important a world tournament win would be for his country and his team-mates.
“2011 was unforgettable for all of us, I remember watching it from home, every match,” he said.
“There were two kinds of feelings. One obviously I wasn’t a part of, so I was a bit disappointed and decided I’m not going to watch the World Cup.
“But then again the second memory I have was India playing so well. Quarter-finals and then the big quarter-final [semi-final] it was against Pakistan and I know how much pressure is put on the players when you play all those games, so I can only imagine what each player must have been through in that time.
“And the semi-final [quarter final] against Australia, it was a brilliant finish from Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) and (Suresh) Raina at the back.”
As for how India will get behind his men and with a twinkle in his eye as he gazes at the Cricket World Cup trophy, Rohit knows his team will have the support of an entire nation.
“I know for a fact that every stadium, every venue that we travel to is going to get massive support,” Rohit said.
“It’s the World Cup so everyone is looking forward to it and the World Cup coming back to India after 12 years. People are very excited and we can see the buzz already back home. I can’t wait to play in all the venues.
“I’ve never seen this trophy up close. When we won in 2011, I wasn’t part of the team, but it’s beautiful and has so many memories behind it.”
“Hopefully we can pull it off, fingers crossed.”
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