22 October 2022

Rohit Sharma bats away issues between India and Pakistan to focus on World Cup

22 October 2022

Rohit Sharma sidestepped the issue of rising tensions between the boards of India and Pakistan ahead of their seismic T20 World Cup showdown at a sold-out MCG.

More than 90,000 fans are expected for the latest instalment of a fierce rivalry between two neighbouring countries whose only matches against each other since 2013 have been at major tournaments.

While relations between the players are thought to be largely friendly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Pakistan Cricket Board have been in disagreement this week.

Jay Shah, secretary of the BCCI and president of the Asian Cricket Council, told reporters on Tuesday India will not travel to next year’s Asia Cup and suggested it be moved from Pakistan, who may boycott the 2023 50-over World Cup in retaliation.

But when asked about the issue, India captain Rohit said: “My take is let’s focus on this World Cup because this is important for us. We’re not worried about what is going to happen later.

“There’s no point in thinking about it. The BCCI will make the decisions on that. We are focused on how we need to be very well prepared for (Sunday’s) game.”

Up until last year, India had a stranglehold on this fixture at the World Cup, prevailing in the dozen previous occasions they had met – seven at 50-over level and five in T20s – but that was broken in jaw-dropping fashion in the United Arab Emirates as Pakistan claimed a remarkable 10-wicket win in Dubai.

That defeat was part of the reason India exited at the Super 12s stage, a shock given they had been favourites to win the tournament, and they have not gone all the way at an International Cricket Council event since the 2013 Champions Trophy.

Rohit added: “The more you keep things simpler, it’s easier for you to go and get the job done.

“That is what our focus has been and constant talk about how we can just relax ourselves a little bit and not worry about ‘(it has been) nine years we have not won the ICC trophy’ and things like that.

“Of course, it’s there in the back of our players’ minds, but it’s important to just keep that away and just focus on the job at hand at the moment because it’s my personal belief that if you think too much of the past, you won’t be able to focus on the present. It’s important to focus on the present.”

The possibility of a rain-interrupted match – or even a washout – hangs over both sides’ Super 12s opener with showers forecast, but Rohit added: “You don’t really know what is going to happen. The things that are in our control, we’ll try and control that.

“We need to come here thinking that it’s a 40-over game. We will be ready for that. If the situation demands that it’s a shorter game, we will be ready for that as well.”

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