Rohit Sharma: Big matches brings out the best from everyone in the Indian team

It is a big game in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 on Thursday when co-hosts Australia faces India in the second semi-final. The winner of the match will go on to face New Zealand in the final on Sunday. Ahead of the match, Indian opening batsman Rohit Sharma talked to the media in the official pre-match press conference. The press conference can be heard in the audio widget above.


Q: Eight of your teammates played in Champions Trophy final two years ago. Your other teammates played the World Cup finals, do you think those kind of experiences will help in a game like tomorrow?

Rohit Sharma (RS): I think so because we all played big games, in the Champions Trophy and also in 2011, so it brings the best out of everyone during those big matches. So, yes, we look forward to this and hopefully it will be an exciting contest.

Q: Rohit, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) has the history of favouring spin bowlers? Do you think spin is going to play a role in this match?
RS: Yes, it all depends on the wicket and how it is. Of course, if you look at the history of the ground, it gives a lot of turn to spin bowlers, and they actually come out and bowl really well. You see the Test matches we played in Australia, spinners played a huge part. So I think if it does, we’ve got the spinners to do it.

Q: What is the best case scenario from an Indian point of view? The pacers are doing well; the spinners are doing well, what would you prefer, a green grassy wicket or a flat wicket?
RS: It doesn’t matter to us because if we look at the tournament, we’ve taken 70 wickets in seven games; it has been distributed among the spinners and the fast bowlers. So it doesn’t matter. If the fast bowlers or the spinners, we’ve got everything going up in those two areas. Our spinners have really bowled well in the tournament and so have the fast bowlers. So it’s a good sign to go into the semi-final. As I said, we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, which I think the bowlers have done a fantastic job throughout the tournament. So I just hope they can come out and do it tomorrow as well.

Q: Seven years ago, India won the CB series here in Australia, and you played an important knock in that series making your mark in international cricket. What memories do you have of that time, and how much has changed over the years, seven years?
RS: Well, it’s been a long time now seven years. I guess you refreshing my memory, it was the first final of the series, and the great Sachin Tendulkar was batting alongside me, so there is no way I could forget that. It was an important game. We had to win that game, and we were chasing I think 240 odd. So, yeah, we pretty much did whatever we wanted to. As a batsman, over the years I’ve learned a lot of things. Certainly batting up the order has changed my game and my approach towards the game and my responsibility. I know if I’m batting all the overs it’s my responsibility and I have to take my team to. So every time I go to bat, I always think about that. It doesn’t matter if I come on top or not, but at least I do that. So, yes, I really enjoyed the last couple of years of batting top of the order. Yes, hopefully the results will come.

Q: There has been talk about Australian players have said that their using sledging as a weapon. So, how prepared is the team?
RS: It’s good; they must have noticed it during the Test series at Australia. None of the team backed down. So, yeah, it’s part of the game, I guess. But I just hope it doesn’t cross the line. We all know as professional cricketers there are boundaries which we don’t need to cross. So, yeah, as long as it’s inside those boundaries, we’ll be fine.

Q: Mitchell Starc has been deadly and the leader of the Australian bowling. Any aspects of it that you’ll try to deal with your innings along with Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order?
RS: No, I think our approach should be the same as it has been throughout the series. We know how important it is to have that opening partnership. It sets up the game for the middle order to come and bat. So, yes Starc is bowling well, no doubt about it. But our batters are batting well. So we know what they’re capable of, and we have to stick to our strengths not thinking what is happening at the other end. So we’ll just concentrate and try to do what we’ve been doing the best. Yes, as I said, it will be important for the top three to bring it for the batters coming in.

Q: There have been talks about what happened in the summer, with the Test matches and the tri-series. Does it really matter what happened in the past or is it different for India?
RS: No, no. I don’t think so. We’ll be playing some different cricket now, so what happened like that we never want to carry into the World Cup. We always spoke about this. We know how important the World Cup is, and to come out and play some good cricket.

Q: Against Bangladesh you were not exactly going around the ball. For someone like you who holds the highest record on number of runs in a one-day match, is it possible that it will come down and later on you accelerated in the game and later after the match, after the England match and Bangladesh making accusations?
RS: We’ll see about the batting. That is the way I approach. It was important for me to stay there. It doesn’t matter, how much balls I’ve faced or that kind of thing. We lost wickets at that point in time, so it was important for me to stay and bat the best way possible. So I exactly tried that, and eventually I know my strengths in the end. That is of course, I know if I stayed in I will get over the strike rate or whatever it is. But it’s important for one batter to stay in the end and it was me. I don’t know what is happening there in Bangladesh. It’s a part of the game. Sometimes you accept some decisions and sometimes you don’t accept some decisions, that is how it is.

Q: Almost all your centuries, the last 50 or 60 runs were 30 balls. How do you pace your innings?
RS: I don’t think about that. I just bat. I don’t think about balls. I don’t think about run rate. I just bat. The only thing that’s going on in my mind in that quarter-final is one batter will have to stay in the middle. If I see that wicket fall in front of me I have to make sure that I bat because I know the power play and the five fielders inside they can always come up, and I can score runs. If you’re set as a batsman, you can score runs quite easy.

Q: Talking about other areas as a cricketer as a batsman and in the last World Cup to till now, having played in those big matches, can you just talk a little more about what are you preparing heading into a big match?
RS: Yes, as I said, I find it very simple. I obviously do things which I feel I need to whether it’s a semi-final, final or just a regular game. I try to keep it very simple. I do things which I need to. It helps my confidence going into any game, not just the semi-final. Also I know I can play any kind of series or league game or World Cup. I just go with a free mind, not too much going in my head. So that is how I approach any game.

Q: Do you guys feel you get under the skin of David Warner and Shane Watson?
RS: See, as a team I believe, we need to stick to our game plan which is coming hard, and if there is a bit of banter going around, so be it. But there will be times where you’ll see a lot of bowlers and fielders getting right in their faces. Yeah, there will be times. But as a team, we have to stick to our game plan and try to execute what we’ve been doing for the last seven games.

Q: In the test series a few times you have been involved in that sort of stuff. Do you feel you feel the same when you score a century and get with a banter with David Warner?
RS: Oh, yeah, that was a good memory and very much fresh in my head. Yeah, something like that, whenever I wear this jersey it’s a good reason. I don’t need someone else to pump me up. It’s important for me when I wear that India cap, I need to work hard, and I know that. I don’t need anyone else to come and talk or whatever it is. So it doesn’t matter to me. I bat the way I want to, and I think I would make sure that nothing gets into the head. I just want to play my game. It doesn’t matter what people are talking and things like that.

Q: Just wondered what you made of last night’s dramatic game? Have you watched it and what did you think of New Zealand’s performance now that they’re going to be in the finals?
RS: I watched the semi-final. It was a great game. You could see after the game there were so many emotions on the grounds. But, yeah, they played well. I think they were playing really good cricket. Eventually, you know you have to give a lot of credit to New Zealand. The way they have played throughout the tournament, it was good to watch, to be honest. As a spectator, it was good to watch. Yeah, they were doing what they were doing consistently whether it was batting or bowling. I think they deserve to be in the finals, and hopefully, yeah, we’ll play them.

Q: Usually the captain speaks the day before the game. Just wondering why you’re speaking?
RS: Because I was asked to come to the press conference.

Q: Is he okay?
RS: Yeah, he’s fine.

Q: We’re all in a cricket bubble here, and so many people have tuned in the sort of casual sports fan, why is Australia versus India in the Cricket World Cup semi-final so big?
RS: I think probably if you look at probably New Zealand and Australia have been playing some good cricket in the last couple of years. And considering the fact that Australia is playing in Australia, they get some support and people this love their cricket here. And, India, obviously you know anywhere we play we’ve got a lot of supporters, so hopefully tomorrow again it will be more blue than yellow.

Q: Most of the shots are very good looking shots. Do you ever try to practice an ugly shot?
RS: That’s a very interesting question. I mean, if I play a good shot, I don’t think I need to play an ugly shot. I’ll just stick to good shots and cricketing shots.

Q: Even if it is in different formats like T20 or ODIs?
RS: I don’t know about that to be honest. It’s important when you play those big shots, it’s important to use a lot of basics, and a lot of techniques and technical issues that goes into that particular thing have to hold their shape, so a lot of things go into that. So you just do that. I don’t think if you can stand straighter or hit straight over the bowler, I don’t think there is anything for you to make those fancy shots.

Q: How do you stay relaxed in a tournament like this?
RS: The pressure is there, no doubt. But our mission is to win the World Cup, so when we finished the tri-series; I know it was two and a half months then, none of the guys thought about going back. We were right there and we just wanted to feel history. Yeah, it’s been tough, but if you look at the way the last one, it’s been really, really good. So we have to make the last four months we spend here work by staying in the semi-final and final.

Q: You’ve spoken about big games and how the team knows how to play in big games. What do you think is the one thing which will make the biggest difference or the biggest impact in this semi-final?
RS: It is something that won’t completely change from what it was before. We will enjoy each other after this whether it’s bowling, batting, everyone is enjoying the moment. We just have to stay in the present and look forward to the semi-final. We know, as I said at the start, we have played in big matches so we know what it takes to come out as a winner. So hopefully we’ll have a good start tomorrow. That’s going to be very crucial whether we bat or bowl, we have to start the game very well. Then you’ll see. As the game progresses, you’ll see where you stand at that point in time and then think about it and analyze. So I think the biggest thing is for us to stay in the present with the crowd and just enjoy the moment and focus on what we do. I’m sure we’ll all be prepared and geared up and ready to go.

Courtesy: ICC