Have prepared for World Cup final since I became captain
On the eve of the ICC World Cup 2023 final against Australia in Ahmedabad, Rohit Sharma showed that he has been prepared for this day since becoming India’s full-time captain.
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Rohit, who has led Mumbai Indians to five IPL titles and India to two Asia Cup trophies, is gearing up for the biggest game of his career so far, both as a player and as a skipper.
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Hosts India, who have won all 10 matches in an outstanding World Cup campaign so far, will be hoping to sign off the tournament on a high with their third title in four attempts. In the process, they will also aim to end their ten-year wait for the ICC title, having last won one in the 2013 Champions Trophy.
“We have prepared for this day since I became captain. We had to identify players for the last 2 years, according to the formats. We had given role clarity and a lot of discussion between the captain and the coach.
“Role clarity is very important to reach this platform. We tried our best to keep the mood and the roles clear. So far so good, hopefully tomorrow as well,” Rohit told reporters at the press conference on the eve of the World Cup final against Australia.
Rohit was part of the Indian team that won the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa as well as the 2013 Champions Trophy in England, but was left out of India’s squad for the 2011 World Cup in which the MS Dhoni-led side finished in Stay 28 year for a second world title. Rohit was part of the Indian teams that reached the semi-finals of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, captained by Dhoni and Virat Kohli respectively.
It was because he had grown up watching the World Cup 50 over that Sunday’s game was the “biggest event” not just for him but for the rest of the team as well.
“This is definitely a huge event. Whatever we have dreamed of so far is here. This is the most challenging aspect for professional sportsmen in terms of how you keep such challenges out of your mind and keep your focus.
“This is the biggest moment in our careers and it’s important to stay calm and composed because that’s where you can better execute your plans. You can’t play World Cup finals everyday. I have grown up watching the 50-over World Cup so it will be the biggest event for me,” Rohit added.
India’s 10 wins in as many tours in this tournament include their six-wicket win over Australia in the opening match on October 8 in Chennai. The spin trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin spun a web around the Australian batsmen, bowling them out for 199.
India, in response, made a shaky start. As many as three of the top four were dismissed for ducks as India were reduced to 2/3 before Virat Kohli and KL Rahul came to the rescue with a match-winning fourth wicket stand of 165.
Ahead of their second meeting with the five-time world champions in this tournament, Rohit said he was aware of the way the Pat Cummins-led side have bounced back from a slow start, winning their first eight matches together.
“Australia have won 8 out of 8. They have played good cricket and both teams deserve to be in the finals. We know what Australia can do. They are a very complete side. We want to focus on what we want to do. We don’t want to worry about the form they are in rather focus on our cricket and our plans,” said the ‘Hitman’ at the press conference.
Rohit was also asked about the possibility of Ravichandran Ashwin being included in the playing XI ahead of one of the frontline seamers, which many said could be Mohammed Siraj. However, Rohit, who has a stable XI for the majority of the tournament, refrained from revealing the team news in the press.
“We haven’t decided on the XI. Anyone from the 15 can play. We will assess the wicket and decide on it. We have to look at the wicket and decide there and of course the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.
“We will assess the pitch and see it again tomorrow. Our 12-13 has been decided. But we will come and see what our strength is. We will decide tomorrow,” said Rohit, who had taken a wicket in his part-time session against the Netherlands last Sunday.
Regarding the Motera wicket that will be used for the grand finale, Rohit felt that it was a bit on the slower side, and that the toss would not play as much a role as it would in venues like Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
“There is a bit of grass on the road. The wicket from India vs Pakistan was much drier. From my understanding, it’s going to be on the slower side. We will see the pitch tomorrow and assess. The temperature has dropped a bit as well. I don’t know how much of a factor the dew will be. I don’t think the toss will play a big role,” Rohit added.
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