Australia v India, World Cup 2015, 2nd semi-final, Sydney March 25, 2015

India not carrying any scars, says Rohit

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We bring out our best during big games - Rohit

Scars? What scars? Everyone's talking about scars, but Rohit Sharma sees none. The scars being discussed do not concern cosmetic surgery for a movie star, but the Indian team's memory of what Australia had been like around six weeks ago.

Defeat followed by defeat followed by defeat, with a drawn Test or two bunged in. India had traipsed around Australia, unable to defeat any team they ran into. Even England in the ODI tri-series, an idea so absurd today that it instantly turns Monty Python-esque.

The memory of those games is now so distant to the Indian team, as if erased from memory. The last six weeks in Australia have involved victory followed by victory followed by more victory, seven times over. But now it is time for the semi-final of the World Cup, and they are up against that same team they were unable to beat. Australia, in the World Cup semi-final. With a title to defend. Hence the scars.

"I don't think it matters," Rohit said. "What happened was in the past. We never wanted to carry it [the Test and tri-series results] into the World Cup. We always spoke about this. We know how important the World Cup is, and [for us] to come out and play some good cricket. So now it is just the matter of two more hurdles."

India have spent the last four months in Australia. Rohit said: "We have to make the last four months worth it." He said the team had come to Australia with a "mission", with the World Cup being the focal point. After two and a half miserable months, Rohit said, "None of the guys thought about going back. We were there on a mission, we wanted to achieve history."

It is India's ability to play the big, "historic" games (particularly in ODIs) that was the team's strength in the last four years, winning 64 off 106 ODIs played since becoming the world champion. For all their wobbly overseas Test record, of those 64 ODI wins, 39 have been overseas and 25 at home. India's ability to turn up on the big days, regardless of what may have transpired earlier, is their X-factor going into this game. Rohit said, "We know how to play big games, we've been a part of it. It brings out the best in everyone."

If there ever was any semi-finalist that Australia would have preferred avoiding in Sydney in this World Cup, it would have to be India. The India that turned up after Valentine's Day, that is.

The run-up to the semi-final has been what one writer in the Sydney Morning Herald called a "one-team phoney war", given that the Australians are talking things up - James Faulkner has spoken about sledging, Steven Smith about scars - only for the first Indian to speak to the media in days to play it down. Questions around any verbal and psychological battles were met with an eyes-half-closed signature Rohit flick: after dismissing the scars, he said India will not back down in the face of any aggression, but effectively executing cricketing skills was more important.

"You must have noticed this throughout the Test matches that when we played Australia, none of the teams backed down, both the teams were right in each other's faces. It's part of the game.

"But see, it has been my belief, we need to stick to our game plan. If there is a bit of banter going around, so be it. There will be times where you'll see a lot of bowlers and fielders getting right in their faces… But as a team, we have to stick to our game plan and try to execute what we've been doing for the last seven games."

One of the areas India will have to execute to precision in is against a suitably revved-up Mitchell Starc, who is as punishing with the new ball as with the relatively-old one. In the first match against Pakistan, they did tackle Wahab Riaz adequately but this was before he got angry. Speaking on the matter, Rohit said: "Our approach has to be the same as it has throughout the series… the opening partnership sets up the game for the rest of the order to come and bat. We know what he [Starc] is capable of but we should stick to our strengths. It is important for the top three to lay the foundation for the others to follow." India's top three have all produced centuries in the tournament, and that is something the Australians would have noted.

Rohit was also asked about possible Australian weaknesses, and couldn't leave without guiding one through the slips. "Every team has some kind of weakness, and Australia has got some as well, they have definitely struggled against quality fast bowling. If you look at the game against New Zealand, they got all out for 150. Even the other night in Adelaide against Pakistan, they seemed to be in a bit of trouble. Overall they are good batting unit...We are a different bowling attack, we have to stick our strengths. We have our ways to come and counter them, whether it will be spin bowling or fast bowling. You will see that tomorrow."

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 27, 2015, 0:25 GMT

    Every bit as entertaining reading this now as it was when it was first published.

    As long as the universally India-friendly media keep indulging these fantasies about Indian capacity, they will always remain hovering around average. Seriously, they believed that Australia didn't want to play India in the semis? Of course they did! It is why they were so keen on beating Sri Lanka in the last pool match, in order to avoid meeting New Zealand.

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2015, 22:15 GMT

    if they were not carrying a scar now they will...yes indeed

  • Paul on March 26, 2015, 20:48 GMT

    "If there ever was any semi-finalist that Australia would have preferred avoiding in Sydney in this World Cup, it would have to be India." What evidence is there of that? How long since Australia lost to India?

  • joff on March 26, 2015, 11:42 GMT

    If india had got smith early india could have won this game. Also kholi should have played better. Missing sachin tendulkar. Sachin a man for big occation. kohli can never beat sachin.

  • Martin on March 26, 2015, 0:48 GMT

    SANGANA8 ; You do remember that Australia declared in those games, to make a game of it? Its all ancient history of course. India will be a lot more competitive today and it could be a close game.

  • Joshua on March 25, 2015, 23:14 GMT

    India are not carrying scars. South Africa aren't going to choke. What else? England are here to win. West Indies don't want to peak too early.

    So that's great.

    But if Starc gets a couple of early wickets, the minds of India's batsmen will think back on this endless summer, and no one could blame them for that.

    India knows, everyone knows, that India will need to play a near perfect game to beat Australia. Every slip in the field, every missed half chance, every loose ball not put away, will weigh on the minds of the Indian players.

    Circumstances have pushed India and Australia together recently, perhaps more than the players on either team would like. However, I don't believe that any of the players can completely exclude from their minds the context of recent history.

  • Vinod on March 25, 2015, 22:32 GMT

    Whatever happens, this will be a test of the internet servers groaning about the hate traffic sloshing around....phew, can we just sit back and enjoy the game for what it is? the sun still gonna rise tomorrow if your team doesn't win. That said, the prev gen of indian cricketers were more dignified and milder and yet played with sublime intensity - just look at Sachin, Rahul, vvs, Anil, srinath, Kapil et al & suddenly (for an outsider) you might get a picture of why india is so fascinated with its cricketers, its the way we play or at least used to play, at least with the older gen. I wish that same distinct indian ness and the spirit seen in the Tuesday Eden park semis is the template for which my team plays, Go India....cricinfo please publih

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 20:08 GMT

    @TAUHID.BD67, well said mate going into flash back. Please go 10 days more and I would really love to hear your comments.

    And if possible, go back few months more, into IND vs AUS test series and you will be surprised by your thought process. BDs saying about umpiring is utmost cynical. Bak Dharmik :)

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 19:49 GMT

    India opened with Bhuvi & Binny in the tri series and both are not playing (most likely) this match ..Ashwin, Mohit, Shami & Jadeja were absent in the tri-series .. If Australians are going to evaluate us on the performance of the tri-series, they are gonna be disappointed ..

  • Mohammad on March 25, 2015, 17:36 GMT

    My only concern is the standard of umpiring. If the umpiring would be impartial Australia will win in the semifinal. We do not want another black day like 19 March.

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