Rohit Sharma on India vs Pakistan: Don’t want to say it is pressure, I would call it a challenge

India will take on Pakistan in their Super 12 campaign opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday and Rohit Sharma is pleased with his team’s preparation.

Published : Oct 22, 2022 12:55 IST , MELBOURNE

Rohit Sharma will lead India at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.
Rohit Sharma will lead India at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia. | Photo Credit: AFP

Rohit Sharma will lead India at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia. | Photo Credit: AFP

Rohit Sharma shuffled in, sat, leant towards the microphones and quipped: “nervous.” It was an aside, perhaps a query to the waiting sports correspondents, and equally, it was an ice-breaker. The scribes laughed, and as a Saturday morning wore on, the clouds parted and the sun filtered into the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Rohit remained calm, answered every query, smiled at times and added a vocabulary twist: “I don’t want to say it is pressure, I would call it a challenge.”

The Indian skipper, on the eve of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup clash against Pakistan, stressed that his men had done the hard yards in the lead-up to the premier event: “We obviously had a good run. We wanted to change a lot of things and we addressed what went wrong for us in the last (T20) World Cup. We wanted to address all the situations, all the problems, and all the issues. I think coming into this World Cup, we are very well prepared, as well. No team will be 100 per cent right, but as a team, we want to do as many things as possible right.”

With Mohammed Shami replacing an injured Jasprit Bumrah in the squad, Rohit praised the former: “The guy has got so much experience playing for India and has played the World Cups. We all know the quality that he has. When Bumrah got injured, we always wanted to have someone experienced and Shami was the right choice. He got COVID back home, and had to miss the home series leading up to the World Cup, but with the kind of experience he has, we know that he will not be short of match practice.”

Adjusting to conditions

The captain was visibly pleased about reaching Australia early, which aided the team’s preparation. “We knew where the World Cup was happening, and we made a conscious decision of going to Australia a little earlier than expected because we were supposed to play the series against South Africa, which, unfortunately, we all had to miss to prepare for this big event. We had a great time in Perth. We were there for nine days, and then we came to Brisbane. We prepared, we played a couple of practice games in Perth to get used to the conditions, the pitches,” Rohit said.

The skipper reiterated that all the 15 are ready to play: “The message was given a long way before we came here that if we need to change one or two players for the match-ups or the sort of conditions we are playing in, the guys will be ready.”

Facing the ‘challenge’

Speaking about Pakistan, Rohit refused to score any psychological brownie points. “I don't want to use the word ‘pressure’ because the pressure is constant. I would like to take this as a challenge. I want to use the word ‘challenge’ a little more. This Pakistani team is very challenging. All the Pakistani teams I have played against from 2007 until 2022 have been good teams. It's just that I believe on that particular day, if you are good enough, you will beat any opposition.”

And as for the fickle Melbourne weather, Rohit quipped: “I have been hearing about Melbourne weather for a while and it keeps changing. In the morning, a lot of the buildings were (masked) in clouds, and now we see sunshine. We need to come here thinking that it's a 40-over game”.

Fakhar Zaman will not be available for India clash: Babar Azam

Pakistan will miss batter Fakhar Zaman in its ICC Twenty20 World Cup fixture against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. On Saturday night, skipper Babar Azam told the media: “Fakhar will take couple of games to recover. He is not available.”

The Pakistan captain felt that his bowling unit is doing well: “Shaheen (Shah Afridi) is back, Naseem (Shah) is performing and especially Haris Rauf the amount of improvement he has shown, the bowling unit has got confidence.”

Babar stressed that his team has plans for every Indian player including Suryakumar Yadav but equally emphasised the warm equation that his men share with their Indian rivals: “Off the field whenever we have met it has been cordial. We have shared a good bond with Indian players and that's what professional sportsmen do. It also helps in on-field relationship as we all give 100 per cent for our country.”

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