Thursday, February 29, 2024

Rohit Sharma grateful to lead India at World Cup: ‘Gambhir, Sehwag, Yuvraj, they never got captaincy … that’s life’

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In preparation for the ODI World Cup, the captain expressed his desire for the team to be in excellent physical condition and in a positive mindset.

The last time India clinched an ICC tournament was back in 2013 when M.S. Dhoni led the team to victory in the Champions Trophy. Now, a decade later, Captain Rohit Sharma asserts that he won’t let the past decade’s unsuccessful quest for a trophy weigh down his team as they embark on the 50-over cricket extravaganza set to commence on Thursday. The tournament kicks off with defending champions England taking on New Zealand in Ahmedabad.

Acknowledging the drought of victories, Sharma remains unfazed, stating, “Yes, we haven’t won, and that’s alright! I’m not one to dwell on it and burden myself with unnecessary pressure that hinders decision-making. England, for instance, started winning recently; they secured the World Cup in 2019 after many years. These things happen. Australia stands as the sole consistently successful team. After their 2007 victory, they claimed the ODI World Cup again in 2015 and won the T20 World Cup in Dubai.”

When asked about his prediction for the upcoming tournament’s winner, Sharma responded, “I don’t have an answer for that. How can I predict it now? My hope is that the team is in good spirits. Everyone is healthy and in top form. That’s the extent of my hope. I can’t predict anything beyond this. The team’s mental state is a crucial factor, and it’s of utmost importance now.”

India’s performance in ICC events has been a subject of debate. They have frequently excelled in reaching the crucial stages of these tournaments but have struggled to clinch the pivotal knockout matches when it truly counts.

In 2015, India advanced to the semifinals but faced defeat against Australia. In the subsequent 2019 edition, they once again reached the semifinals, only to be bested by New Zealand. In the most recent T20 World Cups held in the UAE in 2021 and in Australia in 2022, the team fell short of making it to the final.

Rohit Sharma took over the captaincy from Virat Kohli last year in Australia, yet the elusive victory streak continued. Now, he has an opportunity to establish a lasting legacy, but he prefers not to frame his thoughts in those terms.

“Every year, there’s an ICC trophy now, and if you don’t win it, it’s considered an unsuccessful year. People tend to forget the good work put in over the preceding 10 months. As the Indian cricket team, we bear the weight of expectations to secure major trophies. We are among the world’s top teams, and we are expected to excel. It has indeed been disappointing,” Sharma commented.

At 36 years old, this World Cup could potentially mark his final appearance as a captain and possibly as a player. When asked whether he felt the captaincy came to him at the right time or was delayed, he responded, “Naturally, you aspire to lead when you’re at your peak, say around 26-27 years old. But life doesn’t always unfold as per your desires. We’re discussing the Indian captaincy here, and we’ve had cricket legends in the team. Many players deserved the opportunity to captain the team. I had to wait my turn, and that’s completely fair. Virat was captain before me, as was MS Dhoni.”

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