Mumbai, November 15
Kane Williamson and Rohit Sharma, most laidback and coolest of men, cultivate forgetfulness. Williamson doesn’t wish to remember that his team lost four matches in a row before qualifying for the semifinals of the World Cup. Rohit doesn’t wish to dwell on the fact that India have regularly suffered losses to New Zealand in knockout matches of ICC events, including the 2019 World Cup semifinals and the 2021 Word Test Championships final.
When they clash in the semifinals of the World Cup here today, the two captains and their teams would wish to banish unpleasant memories — go in with a clean slate, as it were. Williamson has forgotten the four losses which had left the team staring at the abyss. “Come finals time, everything starts again,” Williamson said. “When you get to finals, things start again.” This effort at effacing the past wipes away the memory of his own team’s struggles, and that of India’s fearsome form with both bat and ball.
And Rohit, what of the memories of the past, the defeat to New Zealand in the semis in 2019? “I think it’s in the back of your mind, you know what has happened in the past,” Rohit said. “But what has happened in the past is the past. What you can do today, what you can do tomorrow is what we usually talk about. I don’t think there’s much debate, much talk about what happened 10 years ago or five years ago or the last World Cup.”
In this tournament, India have won nine matches in a row; they’ve been frighteningly good — the pace attack, led by Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, is probably the best-ever for India in ODIs; the batters have been in the form of their lives, and Ravindra Jadeja as the all-rounder has been priceless.
More on forgetfulness: Rohit knows teams batting first at the ground tend to put up unbeatable totals — the average first-innings total here since 2011 is 308, 90 runs higher than the average second-innings total — but he wishes to dismiss the thought of the toss being decisive. “I’ve played a lot of cricket here. These four or five games are not going to tell a lot about what Wankhede is,” Rohit said. “I don’t want to talk too much about what Wankhede is, but I certainly believe that toss is not the factor.”
One memory of this ground that might inspire the Indians dates back to April 2, 2011 — when India won the World Cup. Rohit, not in the team then, is driven by that World Cup sized hole in his resume, and wishes to create magical memories tomorrow — and the final.
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