Tuesday, Dec 26, 2023

Post World Cup heartbreak, captain Rohit Sharma voices India’s desperation to win in South Africa: ‘Itna mehnat kiya hai, kuch to chahiye yaar’

When poked around for a response on his future in T20Is - with a World Cup next summer - the 36-year-old kept open the possibility of a return in the shortest format.

Rohit Sharma, Virat KohliCricket - ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 - Final - India v Australia - Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad, India - November 19, 2023 India's Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma look dejected after losing the ICC Cricket World Cup final REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

With a massive exhale of breath, the Indian skipper spoke at his candid best to sum it up best. “Itna mehnat kiya hai, kuch to chahiye yaar humlogo ko (We’ve worked so hard, we need to win something big),” he said on the day before the Boxing Day Test against South Africa in Centurion.

Speaking in his first press conference since the ODI World Cup final loss against Australia last month, Rohit Sharma was asked if a Test series win in South Africa – the final frontier for India in the longest format of the game – would act as a healer for the defeat in Ahmedabad last month.

“Obviously, it will be a big thing if we win here. We have all the tools. Bindaas rehke khelna bahot jaroori hai (We need to play freely). I don’t know if it’ll heal the World Cup final scars. World Cup is World Cup,” Rohit said.


The Indian captain, who has been out of action since the summit clash against Australia, furthermore elaborated on the emotional weightage of losing the tournament. “If you had a World Cup until the final…the way we played, you expect to go an inch further as well. Unfortunately we could not do it. It was a hard part for all of us to take that. Honestly, all these years we’ve worked really hard for this. And then, you saw in how we managed to play the first 10 games. The finals….obviously we didn’t do certain things that we didn’t do well but before that I think there wasn’t much you could point your fingers at and say that’s what we did wrong.”

KL Rahul Rahul Dravid India’s coach Rahul Dravid with skipper Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul during a practice session ahead of the first Test cricket match between India and South Africa, in Centurion, South Africa, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023. (PTI Photo)

As far as India’s latest assignment goes, Rohit elucidated on the threat that awaits the Indian batters against the Proteas. “South Africa is the hardest place to play as a batter,” the 36-year-old stated. “I quite look forward to that challenge. Unfortunately, couldn’t make it the last time, but I’m quite looking forward to do whatever is required from my side and see where it takes us.”

Festive offer

The conditions, challenging enough in themselves, coupled with the fact that India have three batters in their probable top six (Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer), who are yet to play red-ball cricket in South Africa. “It’s not always too late to start your Test career playing in these kind of conditions, at some stage you have to start. Speaking to these guys, they are quite excited.

“The bowlers dominate a lot, because of the bounce, the lateral movement that the seamers get and as the game goes on, it becomes little difficult as you see the cracks open up and spin bowlers come in. Every day has its own challenge, that’s what we have experienced coming over here. Every day it gets tougher,” Rohit added.

Future in T20s?


Having been poked to give an answer on his future with regards to a T20 World Cup next year, Rohit Sharma had just the one line to offer. “I know what you want to ask, you’ll get your answer soon.”

The question is a legitimate one. Rohit, alongside Virat Kohli, is yet to play a T20I for India after the World Cup semifinal loss to England last year. India have instead resorted to the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill and Yashasvi Jaiswal at the top of the order whilst Hardik Pandya has emerged as the leading contender for captaincy in the shortest format. Even at Rohit’s own IPL franchise.

But given his recent antics as an opener, albeit in a different format, the 36-year-old sure has made a solid statement for the World Cup in the Caribbean and the United States next June. At the ODI World Cup, Rohit scored a whooping 364 runs in the powerplay at a strike rate of over 133.


“As a batter, I’m batting as well as I could. I would look forward to play whatever is in front of me,” the Indian skipper would suggest himself on Sunday.

First published on: 25-12-2023 at 18:24 IST
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