LONDON: Do you blame the proximity of the Indian Premier League (IPL)? Is the pressure suffocating? Can they find a new, more liberating way to approach the game? Rohit Sharma answered some of these questions as the Indian captain tried to come to terms with yet another ICC knock-out loss. It's their eight since their last global title (2013 Champions Trophy). Excerpts of the press conference...
On the pressure of expectations
We have told the boys to play freely. We want to do something different. Obviously, we have played so many ICC tournaments and have not won yet. So, our effort is to play in a different way and try to do something different. We have been thinking that this match is important, this event is important and things are not happening (not resulting in winning titles). So obviously We will have to think differently and do things differently. Our message and focus will be on trying to do something different.
On the string of ICC losses
It is disappointing to not come out on top. You get dejected. There is no doubt about it. It does disappoint not just me, but I'm sure everyone in the changing room is disappointed because you work really hard for it. It can be very disheartening. And that is what everyone's feeling right now. But sport is all about picking yourself up and getting ready for the next big event that you have. Because, you know, of course, you can dwell on what went wrong, what you can do. There are a lot of things that we as a team... we are trying, playing with different combinations, certain guys in the squad as well. But yeah, it is disappointing, but you got to keep picking yourself and try and get ready for the next one. Because if you keep thinking about that, it's not going to help you move forward.
On the format of the final being a shoot-out
I would love that (a three-match series). But is there time (smiles)? That's the big question. But honestly, in a big event like this, you need to have fair opportunities to both teams. You know, a three-match series would be nice, but it's about finding that window where it can fit in. But I would love to have - in an event like this, you work hard for two years and then you have only one shot at it. So, it's not really - you cannot get into that momentum that you need in Test cricket. You know, Test cricket is all about finding that rhythm, finding that momentum as well. So, I think, yeah if in the next cycle, if it is possible, a three-match series would be ideal.
On the proximity of the IPL and the final especially when it comes to preserving bowlers
Yeah, ideally, we would want to have time in hand to prepare and give enough rest to the bowlers. Sometimes it can be tough because playing T20 cricket, you completely bowl different lengths, different lines, lot of change-ups. And then Test cricket obviously requires a lot of discipline, hitting that area consistently and challenging the batsmen - but again you know (Mohammed) Shami, (Mohammed) Siraj, Umesh (Yadav), they all are experienced, they obviously know how to prepare themselves and get ready for a game like this. But in an ideal scenario, yes, I would prefer it if we have 20-25 days to prepare for a game like this.
On experienced batters getting out in similar manner
There are a lot of experienced players in the team. You cannot really teach them how to bat. It's all about getting yourself ready. I don't want to be too critical. The reason I say that is because when we were here last time (the 2021 series), a lot of the senior batters actually put their hand up and got us ahead in the series. But yeah, when you have in your top six, you know, five or six batters who have experience in these conditions before and couldn't go on to get big runs... that is what probably cost us.
WTC final can be played any time of the year'
When it was put to Sharma that, as things stand, the final will always be played after IPL, the Indian captain pointed out that the final could be played in any part of the world and at any time of the season. "June is not the only month we should play the finals," he said. "It can be played any time of the year and anywhere in the world, not just in England.
Why can't it be in March?"
The International Cricket Council (ICC) like this window to play in the final. So much so that they have already announced that Lord's will hold the next edition in 2025. One wonders if Sharma, if he stays as captain, will take up the issue with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).