India's skipper, Rohit Sharma, took a stroll down memory lane, reminiscing about his ODI World Cup experiences.
With an air of positivity and foresight, Sharma has projected his optimism toward an upcoming World Cup campaign at home, which is set to begin in October.
Sharma emphasized the importance of sustained excellence over the course of the month-and-a-half-long campaign, underlining the need for consistency to clinch victory in the grand event.
Although India's journey in the last two Men's Cricket World Cups halted at the semi-final phase, the right-handed batsman holds the conviction that his squad has the potential to mirror the success of their fellow countrymen who triumphed in 2011.
Rohit Sharma discusses India’s World Cup 2023 strategy
Present at the Barbados stop of the Cricket World Cup 2023 Trophy Tour, Rohit Sharma stood beside the coveted prize that awaits on November 19. During the event, he emphasized the significance of a calculated and patient approach in India's preparations.
“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 36-year-old said.
“We are trying everything we can from our perspective to make sure we are ready for that World Cup,” Sharma added.
Rohit Sharma revisits his stellar 2019 World Cup campaign
Many eyes will be on Rohit's batting performance as the tournament unfolds. His remarkable performance during the 2019 event, where he emerged as the leading run-scorer with an impressive 648 runs at an average of 81, including five centuries, underscores his pivotal role. Amidst the fervor and pressure of a World Cup campaign in front of the home crowd, Rohit acknowledges the necessity of emulating his achievements from four years ago to spearhead India's success.
“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.”
“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.”
Earliest World Cup memories
Seeking motivation for the approaching tournament, the 36-year-old took a moment to revisit his earliest World Cup recollections, with his focus initially turning to Ajay Jadeja's iconic catch of Allan Border in 1992.
“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.
The 2007 World Cup was a nightmare for India, so Sharma doesn’t have any fond memories of it.
“And then comes the 2007 World Cup where we didn’t have a great time, didn’t even qualify after the league stage, so that was quite unfortunate.”
The bittersweet memories of the 2011 World Cup
Reflecting on India's successful 2011 World Cup run, the present captain's emotions were a mix of joy and melancholy, as he could only witness the victory from a distance. He confesses to grappling with the decision of whether to follow the campaign at all, after failing to make it to the squad. However, his stance shifted when he grasped the profound significance a global tournament triumph held 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.”
“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.”
World Cup dream finally came true
Rohit Sharma has the highest individual score for India in World Cup knockouts.— Cricket.com (@weRcricket) June 25, 2023
His innings came against Bangladesh in the World Cup 2015 quarter-final. #WorldCup | #RohitSharma | #TeamIndia pic.twitter.com/35ILlEoC05
Rohit Sharma made his World Cup debut for India in March 2015. He played eight matches for the Men in Blue in Australia as their World Cup journey ended in the semifinals. Sharma scored 330 runs in the tournament and played a memorable knock of 137 runs against Bangladesh in Melbourne, which remains the highest individual score by an Indian batsman in the World Cup knockout stages.
Rohit Sharma was the vice-captain of India at the 2019 World Cup. The two-time World Champions would once again crash out of the semifinals, but Sharma had a record-breaking campaign, which saw him score 648 runs across nine matches. Even though he enjoyed success with the bat, Sharma regrets not progressing beyond the last four in the last two World Cups.
“And 2015 and 2019, I was a part of it, which felt really good to play the World Cup. We went to the semi-finals, tried everything we could to go to the finals and play well in the finals, but again, a very unfortunate incident where we couldn’t go through to the finals.”
The monumental expectations of a cricket-crazy nation
As for how India will lend their support to his squad, the skipper is convinced that the nation will rally behind his players wholeheartedly. With a gleam of excitement in his eyes while he takes a moment to admire the Cricket World Cup trophy, the experienced batsman recognizes that his team will be propelled by the resounding backing of an entire populace.
“I know for a fact that every ground, every venue that we will be traveling to will get massive support. 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.”