Home Sports Rohit Sharma: ‘I don’t think there is a favourite or an underdog’

Rohit Sharma: ‘I don’t think there is a favourite or an underdog’

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Rohit Sharma: ‘I don’t think there is a favourite or an underdog’

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A day before a big match against Pakistan can be challenging for the most seasoned of India captains. The match attracts press and attention from everywhere. Rohit Sharma, though, came out of this press conference having proved himself both as a statesman and as a cricketer, who has no time for nonsense. From the sublime to the mildly ridiculous, Rohit handled everything with aplomb.

Let’s get the mildly ridiculous out of the way first, shall we? Midway through the press conference, a reporter asked him about tears in his eyes during the national anthem. “What are you talking about?” Rohit asked. “Tears in eyes?”

Rohit lit up the room with that and also went on to say he couldn’t deny he does feel emotional when the national anthem is playing.

There were serious questions too, which needed delicate handling. Playing out one of the biggest rivalries in all sport, in front of arguably the biggest crowd in all sport – almost all of whom are expecting you to win – in a stadium named after your prime minister… When does the home advantage start becoming a disadvantage? It is a fair question. Rohit took a pause to reflect on the gravity of it.

Then he said: “I don’t think there is any disadvantage. You feel nice about playing in front of your home crowd. They get behind you no matter what the situation of the game is. My overall experience playing, not just in India, even outside India, we get massive support. So, I have so far never experienced where the crowd has gone against us or anything like that.

“So, I look at this as a good advantage, big advantage. But we know that eventually it boils down to playing good cricket. And whatever it takes to win the game, you’ve got to do that. So yes, you can use the support, but eventually, you’ve got to play good cricket to win the game.

“All the guys are quite used to playing in front of big crowds. It can only work in your favour. It cannot work against you. A lot of the guys in the team love a big crowd, the cheers, the noise in the ground. So yeah, the boys really enjoy it. Anywhere we go, people turn out in huge numbers. And that is good for the team and also good for the sport in general as well.”

The pressure of expectation of such a big crowd, in such a big country, can sometimes weigh down on you. Rohit was asked how he was avoiding this in the lead-up. “I’m not on social media for past nine months now,” Rohit said. “Everyone [else] has their own way of dealing with it. Some people like it, some don’t. But that’s not my place to tell anyone how to do it. They have to work out their own way of dealing with these things.

“Like I said many times before, in the context of it, yes, it’s a massive game. But for us, what is important is, we are playing an opposition tomorrow, which will be quality. So, we’ve just got to come against a quality opposition and play good cricket, which we’ve done in the last two games. And hopefully we can again show some consistency in our performance and play a good game of cricket.”

There was no attempt to score psychological points either. “I don’t think it [7-0 record against Pakistan in World Cups] is a psychological advantage. Because you have to play good cricket every day. So, it’s important for us as a team that we, as I said, should not pay too much attention to what is already over. And, we should also pay attention to the fresh day, the fresh opposition.

“Both the teams will start evenly. I don’t think there is a favourite or an underdog. Both the teams are equal before they go into the game. It’s just about handling the pressure, dictating terms.”

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