Melbourne, Oct 22 Since last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE, India have played 35 matches, the most by any side participating in the ongoing tournament in Australia. Managing the workload of the players across formats led them to fielding 29 players in the T20Is — the most by any team in 2022, which narrowed down to 15 for the T20 World Cup.
On the way, they won every bilateral series — home and away, barring the drawn 2-2 result against South Africa at home in June and not making it to the final of Asia Cup in the UAE in September.
Now, with their T20 World Cup Super 12 opener against Pakistan set to happen in Melbourne on Sunday, captain Rohit Sharma felt the side managed to get some issues right from 2021 and that they are standing in good position right now in their quest to add just their second World Cup trophy in the shortest format of the game.
“We obviously (have) had a good run. We wanted to change a lot of things, and we addressed what went wrong for us in the last World Cup and keeping everything in mind whatever happened in the last World Cup, all leading up to the last World Cup. We wanted to address all the situations, all the problems, all the issues.
“But we managed to get some of those right for sure. So pretty much standing in good position right now, having played 35 games. Understood what we need to do as a team, what we need to do as a bowling group, batting group and fielding group, as well. Coming into this World Cup, very well prepared, as well. We wanted to address a lot of issues, and I think we managed to do that,” said Rohit in the pre-match press conference.
Since the time Rohit took over as captain and Rahul Dravid as head coach, India tried players at various positions apart from having different skippers at the helm in many matches. They also got the team to embrace an ultra-attacking approach with the bat, especially in going hard with the bat in first six overs.
Rohit added that giving players freedom and security to do good in testing situations in a match has been one of the biggest focus in the Indian set-up since their early exit from 2021 T20 World Cup.
“The most important thing was to give players freedom, giving them the security to do well in challenging situations. We focused on how to give players the security without worrying about results. These small things matter a lot, in this last one year, us not focusing on results, we wanted to focus on small things. We were thinking about how we can play fearlessly. We were talking about it in our dressing room.”
Often in the past, India have gone into big tournaments almost after the end of a bilateral series or after an edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). For instance, the side landed straightaway in the T20 World Cup bandwagon days after second half of IPL 2021 ended in the UAE.
In preparing for the 2022 T20 World Cup, India departed earlier for Australia, setting up a long camp in Perth, where they played two practice matches against Western Australia XI and then had a warm-up match against Australia at Brisbane before rain washed out another such match against New Zealand.
“That’s something we’ve been talking about for a while, like when you go on big tours, you need to prepare well, especially when you travel outside India. You need to have time in hand to prepare the way you want to prepare, because it takes time.
“A lot of the guys are not used to playing in foreign conditions, be it Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand, and all those countries. It’s always nice to have time in hand, and this was a conscious effort from the team management, BCCI, that come the big tournament, we want to have time in hand to prepare ourselves, and the talk of having time in hand started right after the last World Cup.
“We said, we know where the World Cup is happening, and we made a very conscious decision of going to Australia a little earlier than expected because we were supposed to play the (ODI) series against South Africa which unfortunately we all had to miss to prepare for this big event.”
“That is something that was happening in the background right after the World Cup. We know how key the preparation is. A lot of the guys who are part of this team have not been to Australia, so that was also one of the reasons we wanted to come here early,” elaborated Rohit.
From the main squad, Harshal Patel and Deepak Hooda had toured Australia but as members of India U19 side in 2009 and 2013 respectively, while Suryakumar Yadav, Axar Patel and Arshdeep Singh haven’t had the experience of playing competitive cricket in the country. Rohit explained glowingly about the gains in the preparation from the 15-day period spent in Perth and Brisbane.
“We had a great time in Perth. We were there for nine days, and then we came to Brisbane. We prepared, played a couple of practice games in Perth just to get used to the conditions, pitches. You can’t travel all around Australia and play on all pitches, but we could get whatever we could get.
“I thought Perth was the right time for us to start. Obviously, the time difference is not too much, also, so you can easily get acclimatized to the time zone, and that was also one of the reasons.”
“The way we went about the entire Perth leg was good for us. We could specifically focus on certain things when it comes to batting, and the bowlers could work on certain things for all this unique time, and we were lucky enough to get those time in hand to prepare ourselves and come here in Melbourne.”
With the final set of preparation done and dusted, India are now all set for their biggest challenge — sustaining the good run after a transformation in approach and achieving an elusive world title in Australia.
“Now it’s time to execute those ideas, those plans that we’ve been discussing about what are the issues and everything. We’ve tried to manage — see, no team will be 100 per cent right, but as a team we want to do as much things as possible right. I think coming here into the World Cup, we feel confident that we can achieve what we want to achieve as a group,” concluded Rohit.
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