None of them have featured in this World Cup.
Among players who have played less than 50 ODIs, Surya Kumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, and Prasidh Krishna, all who debuted before Rohit took over, are in the 15-member squad.
India vs New Zealand World Cup semi-final: Who’s better in head-on battles?
Covid, injuries, illness and two T20 World Cups within a year meant that teams had to spread their net far and wide in search of a good ODI squad for the 50-over World Cup. India as hosts of the event have had 24 debutants since the 2019 World Cup. In this year alone, India have tried 24 different combinations and finally a month before the World Cup, they seemed to have cracked the perfect combo that has decimated opponents from the Asia Cup.
Rohit chose to sidestep the comment about whether this is the most dominant Indian team chose to focus on the role clarity that players have been given under him.
“The roles are clear for each and every one of them and they exactly know what to do. It a little easier for the players as well to understand what is expected out of them and what role they need to perform. I am not saying the role clarity was not there in 2019 because I was not part of the discussions. Mainly the captain and coach decide what he wants from players. “
The clarity that he talks about is evident in the backing that certain players have received from the team management, even accounting for a few failures. “I believe that as a captain, if you have decided that this is how you want to play as a team, then there needs to be clarity amongst the team. And then if a certain player wants to go out there and play in the way that you want him to play, then you’ve got to back that player to the hilt. And that is what we’ve done. We’ve backed certain players because we’ve given them a different role. And if they perform the role, well and good, but even if they don’t, which will not come off in every game, we have got to back that player and tell him that we stand by you.”
Kuldeep Yadav is one player that Rohit has backed since he took over, giving him clarity that he won’t feature in the T20 set up but will be in the squad for ODIS. In the pool game against New Zealand at Dharamshala, Daryl Mitchell took him down while scoring a hundred, but the chinaman bowler bounced back and triggered the comeback which allowed India to restrict the Kiwis to a sub-par 273 when they were looking good for 330-plus.
“Kuldeep missed out on a few games in between, but since he’s made a comeback, you see a different sort of Kuldeep in terms of his attitude. He wants to front the situation, front the challenge, take responsibility. I can clearly see that with him, he is not afraid to get hit.”
Playing brave cricket is something Rohit swears by as a captain, and he wants his side to play that way even while embracing knockout pressure on Wednesday where India face a Kiwi side that Rohit feels is “most disciplined”.
When asked about India’s semifinal slip-ups in 2015 and 2019, Rohit said, “What has happened in the past is not going to determine too much about what will happen tomorrow. Now, the time has come that you need a little bit of luck as well to go your way. Obviously, we’re going to be brave enough. And hopefully, fortune favours the brave.”
He was also asked about team environment and bonding and how players seem to be happy in each other’s company and he said the team environment does not change on results. “We have to create the environment that is needed for the team and that is mandatory. And this cannot be done by one or two boys. It is important for all the boys to come together, including the support staff. When we were in Dharamshala, we had a five- or six-day break there. We stayed in Dharamshala for two days. We did a lot of team activity there. We did a fashion show there too, but no one knows about that. It’s a good thing that no one knows about it. We always talk about the environment where we like people to be very relaxed. And all the boys like this a lot. Because you know when you come on the ground, there will be pressure.”
Being an Indian captain, Rohit knows what the pressure is and when the team that has played so well throughout the tournament is facing a situation where one bad day can see all the good work of the last six weeks fizzle out, there are bound to be sleepless and anxious nights that one goes through. The skipper though says he has no such issues.
“I don’t live alone. I have a family with me. So, my mind goes here and there, which is a very good thing. When I go to my hotel room, we completely stay away from cricket. We discuss a lot of other things. So, it’s a good thing. You think a lot about cricket, yes, but when you have time, when you have a chance to not think, then you shouldn’t think. Because, even if you think all day, what will happen?”