MELBOURNE: Should India and Pakistan make a conscious attempt to play more cricket against each other in order to elevate the quality of their sporadic but much-hyped contests in ICC or ACC events?
Captain Rohit Sharma admitted the small sample size of matches against a major opponent made it harder to prepare for high-pressure situations. In recent times, India have often struggled to put a finger on the approach and strategies adopted in this format by Pakistan, a mercurial side at the best of times, leading to Babar Azam‘s men coming out on top in their last few matches.
“Luckily for us, we got to play them in the Asia Cup twice, otherwise we don’t play them at all,” Rohit said. “So it’s very hard to gauge what sort of mindset they play with. I don’t want to use the word pressure because pressure is constant. It’s not going to change. I would like to take this as a challenge. This Pakistan team is very challenging. All the Pakistani teams I’ve played against from 2007 until 2022, they’ve been good teams.”
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Having played the very first World T20 in 2007, Rohit has had an inside view of the format’s constant evolution. India are yet to win the T20 World Cup since then and haven’t won any ICC tournament since the Champions Trophy in 2013. One ostensible reason for Virat Kohli‘s resignation from the captaincy was his inability to bring any ICC trophy home. This T20 World Cup, then, is extremely important for Rohit as both opening batter and captain, with India looking to end a nine-year drought.
On being given the top job specifically to bring this T20 World Cup home, Rohit said, “My belief is that if you think too much of the past, you won’t be able to focus on the present. For nine years, we have not won an ICC trophy. It’s there in the back of our mind. It’s important to just keep that away and focus on the job at hand.”
India have ushered in a number of important changes in their T20 approach, beginning with a focus on more accelerated starts and smarter matchups. Explaining his own philosophy of captaincy, Rohit said, “It’s important to give freedom and security to a player. One has to give them this feeling that, ‘This is the job that needs to be done, and only you can do it.’ Security leads to a better mindset.”
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India’s first task has been to give themselves time to prepare well by arriving early in Australia and playing a few warm-up games in Perth. “When you go on big tours, you need to prepare well. It takes time to prepare. A lot of the guys are not used to foreign conditions. The talk of having time in hand started right after the last (T20) World Cup.”