Ahmedabad, November 18
Rohit Sharma looks bored at the pre-match media conference, drawls in his usual monotone, drawing grins with his dry humour. This very man would bat with methodical brilliance tomorrow, it’s difficult to imagine. But he also hides a bit of pain — of missing glory at the 2011 World Cup.
Rohit was being raved about back in 2005, as the next big thing in Indian cricket; he got to play for India in ODIs in 2007, before Virat Kohli. Rohit, by rights, on the strength of his sublime talent and strokeplay, should have been part of the team in 2011, but he was not — it’s said he could not handle the fame and the success, the money especially, that he got after getting big IPL contracts since 2008. The focus shifted away from cricket, and there were tales of his love for a drink or two — or a few. His performances became patchy, and he was out of the team. For such a man to lead India to the World Cup final is a remarkable achievement; talent must find a robust supplement in hard work, and Rohit did just that.
But the memories of 2011 are painful. “I don’t want to go back there,” Rohit said on the eve of the final. “It was a very emotional period. I’m sure everyone knows about it. It was a very hard time. But again, now I’m very happy that I’m leading the team into the final. I never thought it will happen.”
Pat Cummins, meanwhile, is keen to cement his own legacy. He’s not fearful of what Sunday could bring in the form of a very partisan crowd in the massive stadium. He’s not a stranger to big stadiums, of course. When Australia won the title at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2015, Cummins was part of the squad, though not in the playing XI in the final. Five first-choice players of this year — Steven Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell — played in the final against New Zealand. “The crowd’s obviously going to be very one-sided but it’s also in sport there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a big crowd go silent,” said Cummins. “That’s the aim for us tomorrow… You know in the lead-up there’s going to be noise, and more people and interest, and you just can’t get overwhelmed. You got to be up for it, you got to love it and just know whatever happens, it’s fine… But you just want to finish the day with no regrets.”
This is the exact philosophy of Indian captain Rohit — he aims to find equanimity in a sea of turbulence. “I just want to keep it nice and relaxed and calm, not get too emotional thinking about what happened in 2011 or what can happen tomorrow,” Rohit said. “I just want to create the same environment that I created for myself when we started this World Cup. We were all in great space. We are all in great space now. So, I just want to maintain that. Like I said, don’t want to go too up, don’t want to go too low. Just nice and balanced.”
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