Rohit Sharma Babar Azam T20 World Cup 2022
India and Pakistan captains Rohit Sharma (left) and Babar Azam. File photo: ICC

T20 World Cup: India vs Pakistan: It's a challenge not pressure, says Rohit

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With India set to launch its ICC T20 World Cup 2022 campaign tomorrow (October 23) against Pakistan in Melbourne, captain Rohit Sharma is not thinking too much about the team’s nine-year drought of not winning an ICC trophy.

Also read: T20 World Cup preview: No clear favourite as Super 12s kick off

Speaking to the media on the eve of the big Super 12 Group 2 match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Rohit said he would take it as a “challenge” rather than “pressure” to win the ICC trophy.

‘Not underestimating any team’

India has not won the T20 World Cup since it captured the title in the inaugural edition in 2007 in South Africa. And when it comes to ICC tournaments, the last silverware was won in the 2013 Champions Trophy in England.

Also read: T20 World Cup: Format, points system, reserve days, super over, COVID rules

“I don’t want to use the word ‘pressure’ because the pressure is constant. It is not going to change ever. I would like to take this as a challenge. I want to use that word ‘challenge’ a little more. This Pakistani team is a very challenging team. All the Pakistani teams that I have played from 2007 until 2022, they’ve been a good team,” Rohit, who is set to captain in a World Cup for the first time, said on Saturday (October 22).

The right-handed opener explained that India cannot underestimate any team in a World Cup. “In a World Cup, I don’t think you can underestimate any team, as you’ve seen in the qualifiers, as well.”

The mantra for Team India in the T20 World Cup, according to the skipper, is to keep things simple.

“I think the more you keep things simpler, easier for you to go and get the job done. That is what our focus has been and constant talk about how we can just relax ourselves a little bit and not worry about, oh, okay, nine years we have not won the ICC trophy and things like that. Of course, it’s there in the back of our players’ mind, but it’s important to just keep that away and just focus on the job at hand at the moment because it’s my personal belief that if you think too much of the past, I think you won’t be able to focus on the present. It’s important to focus on the present,” Rohit said.

Rain threat

With rain likely to impact the India versus Pakistan game on Sunday, Rohit was asked how the team will prepare for a curtailed contest. He said they would come to the ground fully prepared to play a 40-over match but added that players know how to approach a shorter game as well.

Also read: T20 World Cup: Schedule, squads, groups, live TV, streaming, audio

“You don’t really know what is going to happen tomorrow. The things that are in our control, we’ll try and control that, which is we’ll have a good training session today, go back, relax ourselves and get ready for tomorrow. As simple as that. We need to come here thinking that it’s a 40-over game. We will be ready for that,” the Mumbai batter said.

“If the situation demands that it’s a shorter game, we will be ready for that, as well. A lot of the guys have played such kinds of games before, and they know how to manage themselves in a situation like that where you are getting ready for a 40-over game and then suddenly it’s a 20-over game for both sides, 10 overs each or five overs each,” he added.

Team changes

Talking about the playing 11 for the T20 World Cup opener, Rohit did not announce the team but declared that all 15 players were fit and available for selection.

He said he is not averse to the idea of making one or two changes in every game during India’s T20 World Cup campaign.

Also read: T20 World Cup: How the 16 teams qualified for tournament in Australia

While India has used 29 cricketers in T20Is in the past one year, some by choice and some by design, the captain wants his team to be a mix, where players would be inducted instinctively and also based on the available database (matchups).

“There are times like this time when we don’t have much information about how teams have fared at this time of the year. At times, you depend on your instincts and choose the player on current form and how he is doing,” Rohit said.

“But we also study a lot of data. I am open about my playing XI. I don’t mind having one or two changes per game in the playing XI.”

On Shami

Talking about Jasprit Bumrah’s replacement Mohammed Shami, Rohit said, “I think just speaking about Shami, I think the guy has got so much experience playing for so many years for India and has played World Cup, as well, before. We all know the quality that he has.

Also read: T20 World Cup – Rewind: Yuvraj’s 6 sixes, India’s historic win, and more

“When Bumrah got injured, we always wanted to have someone experienced in the lineup, and Shami was the right choice for us. Looking at what has happened with him in the last 20, 25 days, obviously he got COVID back home, had to miss the home series that we played leading up to the World Cup, but again, with the kind of experience that he has, we know that he will not be short of match practice.”

On travelling to Pakistan

When asked about the recent issue where the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah said India won’t travel to Pakistan for the next year’s Asia Cup, Rohit said he will leave it to the Indian cricket board to decide and his focus is now on the T20 World Cup.

Also read: T20 World Cup 2022 prize money details announced; check here

“My take is let’s focus on this World Cup because this is important for us. We’re not worried about what is going to happen later. There’s no point in thinking about it. The BCCI will make the decisions on that. We are focused on how we need to be very well prepared for tomorrow’s game,” he said.

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