Indian cricket team Captain Rohit Sharma. (DC Image)
Ahmedabad: Captain Rohit Sharma has been carrying the expectations of over a billion countrymen over the last one month effortlessly. He will continue to do so one last time on Sunday. There’s no pressure, he declared on match eve.
"Emotionally it’s a big thing, a big occasion. But the biggest challenge for professional athletes is to put all this aside and focus on work. It’s really important to remain calm in such situations and play your role well," he said on Saturday.
Before India’s campaign began Rohit had said it would be nice to win the World Cup. "In the same tone, I want to say it now again, the same thing. It’ll be nice to do it because we’ve worked really hard for it but we don’t want to get too excited or feel too much pressure about it. A balanced atmosphere and thinking at this stage will be really nice," he said.
"Leading up to every game, we’ve been quite composed, calm about what we want to do. We know how it is, and the expectations, criticism and everything. So, it’s important that we stick to our strengths, our group and what we want to do as a team. We want to be in the present and play our game. We have only thought about who the next opposition is and how we have to play against them," the 36-year-old added.
Speaking about the groundwork, Rohit said: "The preparation for this day started two years ago when I became the captain. We identified players and gave them role clarity, which has been important in us reaching this far. We put a lot of effort into playing with a clear mindset, identifying clear roles. Till now everything has been good. Hopefully, tomorrow will be the same."
The Indian skipper sought to play down the favourites tag. "Australia have won the last eight games they’ve played. So, it’s going to be a good contest. Both teams deserve to be at this stage playing the finals and we do understand the importance of what they can do," he said.
He lauded the bowlers for their performance during the tournament. "They have done a great job for us. When we started off, we were chasing in the first four or five games and to restrict teams below 300 in Indian conditions was a great effort. And then again, the second half of the tournament we defended scores quite clinically as well. All three seamers Shami, Siraj, Bumrah know exactly what is expected and how they want to go about doing that stuff. The same goes for spinners, who have come in where we wanted to take wickets," Rohit said.
He had special praise for Shami. "It was tough for him to not play the initial part of the World Cup, looking at him being one of the senior bowlers for us. But he was there for the team. He was there to help Siraj, he was there to help Bumrah in whatever ways he could. That shows the team man that he is. We had a chat with him about why he missed out. Once the opportunity opened up for him, he was right there, which shows the kind of mental space he was in," Rohit said.
When India won the 2011 World Cup Rohit was not part of the team, now to lead the nation is a great feeling. "I’m very happy that I’m at this stage. I never thought it would happen but things do when you dream big. But I don’t want to get too emotional thinking about what happened in 2011 or what can happen tomorrow. I don’t want to get too high or low, just stay nice and balanced," he said.