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ICC ODI World Cup semi-final – Rohit says India are relaxed ahead of high-pressure semi-final


ICC ODI World Cup semi-final – Rohit says India are relaxed ahead of high-pressure semi-final


When they step over the boundary at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday, India will confront head-on the pressure of a World Cup semi-final – a heightened version, perhaps, of the feeling that’s enveloped them right through this tournament. While this pressure is unavoidable once they step on the field, India have made every effort to minimise it when the team is away from the ground.

On the eve of the semi-final against New Zealand, Rohit Sharma detailed the efforts the team management has made to create a relaxed environment, going back to the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.

“We started in Australia in the last World Cup, we started there the same way,” Rohit said. “We reached Australia 10 or 15 days early. And we had set up a small camp in Perth for seven or eight days. There is an island near Perth, we went there. We went away from cricket. Wherever we get a chance, we try to do activities like that. To keep the team’s environment light. It’s not like it’s only happening in the last two years. It used to happen before as well. But now, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s more visible now.”

This has continued into this World Cup, where the team’s off-field activities have even included the players putting on a fashion show – the finer details of which Rohit declined to go into.

“Our conscious effort has been on this, that the team’s environment does not change based on the results,” he said. “We have to create the environment that is needed for the team and that is mandatory. And this cannot be done by one or two boys. It is important for all the boys to come together, including the support staff.

“So, like we were in Dharamsala, we had a five or six-day break there. We stayed in Dharamsala for two days. We did a lot of team activity there. We did a fashion show there, but no one knows about that. It’s a good thing that no one knows about it.

“So, all this effort, the environment of the team that we always talk about, this is the environment where we like to be very relaxed. And all the boys like this a lot. Because you know when you come on the ground, there will be pressure, pressure of performance, pressure of winning the match. That can’t be changed. Because once you reach the ground, it is then up to the individuals how they want to take it forward.

“But before that, we have done everything we can to make the team’s environment easy. The team’s atmosphere is very good. It is very relaxed. So, this is a good thing.”

On an individual level, Rohit said having his family with him during the tournament has allowed him to take his mind off cricket whenever possible.

“I have a family with me, so my mind goes here and there, which is a very good thing,” he said. “When I go to my hotel room, we completely stay away from cricket. We discuss a lot of other things. It’s a good thing. You think a lot about cricket, yes, but when you have time, when you have a chance to not think, then you shouldn’t think. Because, even if you think all day, what will happen? So it is important to think about something else.”

One contributing factor to the relaxed dressing-room atmosphere, Rohit suggested, is the security players have enjoyed of having clear roles in the side and the faith of the team management in their ability to perform those roles even through lean runs.

“I just believe that as a captain, if you have decided that this is how you want to play as a team, then there needs to be a clarity among the team,” Rohit said. “And then if a certain player wants to go out there and play in the way that you want him to play, then you’ve got to back that player to the hilt. And that is what we’ve done.

“We’ve backed certain players because we’ve given them a different role. And if they perform the role, well and good, but even if they don’t, which will not come off in every game, we have got to back that player and tell him that we stand by you. That is something that I believe in and I want to do it as much as I can from my side and also got to give credit to Rahul [Dravid] bhai as well, to buy into that thought of not changing too much when the player doesn’t come off with that plan.

“So yeah, that is something that we have stuck by right from the beginning. And we will continue to do that even in the future as well. But yeah, that is something that I feel is quite important. And giving freedom to each player to go out there and perform their role. That is also again another important aspect of the game and how you want to play as a team. So, these are the two things, role clarity and giving the guys that freedom and going there and expressing themselves.”


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