ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 – Rohit Sharma – ‘We were calm even though we were a bit sloppy on the field’

India have made it ten out of ten at the World Cup. They have been clinical pretty much all the way, dominating with the bat and with the ball, but that wasn’t quite the case on Wednesday in Mumbai in the semi-final against New Zealand, even if the margin of victory – 70 runs – sounds comprehensive enough. Captain Rohit Sharma acknowledged that it was among the toughest matches India played at this World Cup, adding that his side had to “stay collected” and take the “semi-final off the equation” to stay in the game and pull off a win.

“The way our bowlers came and bowled up front with the new ball, getting those wickets… when you have a target [India scored 397] like that, you’ve got to take wickets upfront. And we did that exactly,” Rohit said on Star Sports after the game. “Today being the semi-finals, I wouldn’t say that there was no pressure. Whenever you play the game, there is always pressure, and obviously semi-final adds a bit of extra there. But I think the guys were doing the job.

“To be honest, we wanted to take that semi-final out of the equation, not to think too much about it. We just wanted to keep doing what we’ve been doing in the first nine games that we played, and things came off for us really nicely in the second half as well.”

Despite their big total, India were put under pressure by Daryl Mitchell and Kane Williamson, who put together 181 runs together in 149 balls in their third-wicket partnership, silencing the Wankhede crowd in the process, with Mitchell bringing up an 85-ball hundred and Williamson a resolute half-century.

“I’ve played a lot of cricket here [at the Wankhede]. So I know any score on this ground… you cannot relax, you got to get the job done as quickly as possible and stay at it. We knew there will be pressure on us at some stage there will be partnership. We just got to stay collected and I think that’s what we did”

Rohit Sharma

India also dropped Williamson – Mohammed Shami spilling a sitter at mid-on – and also missed a run-out chance when the two were batting together. At that point, New Zealand were in control of the chase. But Shami, who had picked the first two wickets, came back in the 33rd over to provide the breakthrough with Williamson’s wicket.

“When the scoring rate is above nine all the time, you got to keep taking your chances,” Rohit said. “Sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t. They gave us chances, we didn’t take them. But credit to them as well in the middle, Mitchell and Williamson batted brilliantly.

“Again, for us, it was important to stay calm. At one point, the crowd went absolutely silent, that’s the nature of the game. But we knew that we had to pull something up from our sleeves and need a magic, either a good catch or a run out or maybe a magic delivery. But we tried everything we couldn’t [break through], but again, Shami was brilliant.

“I’ve played a lot of cricket here [at the Wankhede]. So I know any score on this ground… you cannot relax, you got to get the job done as quickly as possible and stay at it. We knew there will be pressure on us at some stage there will be partnership. We just got to stay collected and I think that’s what we did. We were calm even though we were a bit sloppy on the field. But that can happen. We’ve got nine perfect games on the field. So, these things are bound to happen. But I’m glad that we could get the job done in the end.”

The Wankhede is known for being batting-friendly, and it didn’t play any differently on the day.

India were off to a rollicking start, with Rohit and Shubman Gill putting up a 75-run opening stand off just 50 balls. Kohli registered his record 50th ODI century and Shreyas Iyer brought up a century of his own, hitting 105 off just 70 balls. India plundered 110 runs off the last ten overs to get to their third 350-plus total of the tournament.

“The top-five-six batters, whenever they’ve gotten an opportunity, they’ve made it really count,” Rohit said. “Very, very pleased to see what Iyer has done for us in this tournament. Gill, the way he batted up front was brilliant. Unfortunately, he started getting cramps so we had to bring him back.

“Kohli was brilliant as usual, played his trademark innings and got to that landmark milestone as well. All in all, the batting was superb, and that is the kind of template we want to bat with and move forward with.”

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