Cricket-India focused on World Cup progress and not history ahead of semis

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s young team will not be weighed down by history when they face New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final as they have already shown they can handle the high expectations during their unbeaten run in the group stage, skipper Rohit Sharma said on Tuesday.

India won their first World Cup in 1983 and endured a long wait before MS Dhoni’s side claimed the trophy on home soil in 2011 and the current side has raised hopes of another triumph with nine wins in a flawless campaign before Wednesday’s game.

“That’s the beauty of this team. Half of the guys weren’t even born when we won our first World Cup. And then when we won our second World Cup in 2011, half of the guys weren’t even playing the game,” Rohit told reporters in Mumbai.

“This current crop of players, they’re very much into what’s happening today, what can happen tomorrow. Those are things they try and focus on. I don’t see them talking about how we won the last World Cup, how we won our first World Cup.

“The focus is on how they can get better as players, what they can bring to the team and what are the things they need to improve.”

Rohit said he was impressed with how his men had managed the pressure from an expectant nation.

“From the first game to the last game, be it a league match, semi-final or final, whenever you play a World Cup game there’s always pressure,” Rohit said.

“This is obvious because the World Cup is a World Cup, that’s why there’s pressure. But we have handled that pressure very well in the last nine games.”

New Zealand represent a bogey team for India having beaten them in the 2019 semi-finals and Rohit acknowledged the threat of Kane Williamson’s side.

“Whenever we’ve come up against New Zealand, (they are) probably the most disciplined team in terms of how they want to play the game. And they play their cricket very smartly. They understand the opposition quite well,” he added.

“Obviously having played with a lot of our players in different stages of their careers, different tournaments, they do understand the mentality of the opposition.

“It’s the same for us as well.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)