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T20 World Cup 2024 – India vs Pakistan – Rohit and Kirsten: Keep calm and play cricket

The 2011 ODI World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan in Mohali was such a momentous occasion that the then India coach Gary Kirsten and other staff came out of the meeting room to give the players their farewell.

“After the show [a presentation by the team analyst] is over, Gary says many non-Indian workers,” wrote R Ashwin in the book I have Roads. “They appreciate this team and it’s a big game for them too, but they still don’t know how much Pakistan’s performance in the World Cup is for us players. He says they are all leaving now, so we can be alone and conduct the meeting all by ourselves.”

That was about two hours before the game that was to be played in the presence of the top political leaders of both countries, many celebrities, and the stadiums were packed. Sachin Tendulkar gave a rousing speech, about how he thought two-three years ago against Pakistan in the semi-final or final and winning the trophy. Everyone left the meeting with bumps.

However, 2011 was a different world. These games were rare and natural. Now, there is a World Cup every year and teams are arranged for India and Pakistan to play in the league stage. The event remains important, but the edge is slightly removed.

The results of the ‘big games’ have become a noose around the neck of the current Indian team, even though they are not playing badly in these games. On the eve of the match against Pakistan, Rohit Sharma was asked if there is anything different about matches where the expectations are high and the price is high. Small markers like how their brain works in leadership, how well they sleep, how they feel during the warm-up. Not much, said Rohit.

“Nothing has changed in the past seven months because we have played [Pakistan] in the Asia World Cup, in the ODI World Cup, now in the T20 World Cup,” Rohit said. “Earlier it was a different game of football because we used to play it maybe once every four years, or two years, now it’s different. football game. We played literally seven months back in the Asia Cup and the World Cup and we are here again now.

“So, for me, I think nothing has changed. I want to face this like another international game where I gather and make those decisions on the field. I’m sure that everyone will have their own way of dealing with games like this, but I have my job as captain, I have to make decisions on the field .how much money do we need after 20 overs, or how much do we need to bowl, I think it’s about how we want to finish that, and actually just nail it down maybe more, and then think about what you have to do in that part, and this is where the captain’s skill comes into play.

“I’m sure other captains think differently. Everyone has their own way but this is the way I like to think about it. Because this is a place where you can’t think too far ahead. The game is always changing here. So, you need to think about that and how you can overcome that and move on to the next one.” I know there’s a lot of thinking that needs to go into this kind of thinking, but I’m okay with that.”

Rohit has not been a part of a semi-final in the last 13 years but has won a World Cup final before and a couple of matches against Pakistan. The coach of India in 2011 is the coach of Pakistan in 2024. The bowler who took five wickets that day in Mohali remains the main selector, and Wahab Riaz couldn’t help but bowl the nets on Saturday.

As well as being the coach of India in the past, Kirsten has worked with the likes of Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill as the director of cricket for Gujarat Titans in the IPL. When asked if her experience brings valuable intel, Kirsten said Pakistan’s players don’t need it.

“That’s a good question and the way I can answer it is that these players have seen enough of each other and the way they play,” he said. “Ultimately we want to make sure we get our game right. Look at the conditions and what’s needed in the conditions because I think it’s going to be a big day tomorrow.”

Kirsten said the vibe also felt different. “I think it’s a little different because it’s not in India or Pakistan,” Kirsten said. “I went for a ride early today, which I like to do early in the morning, and I definitely rode the field a little bit and I feel like there’s going to be a good atmosphere there tomorrow. So that’s going to be fun for all of us and we’re going to have a lot of people come out to support both teams.”

If Rohit is going to face it like any other international match, Kirsten’s advice is to embrace the occasion. “Well, not to hide the fact that it is a big game, but to treat cricket as cricket should be treated,” he said. “You have to play every game well, you need to hit the ball in the right places, score enough runs, hold your possessions well, catch well. I don’t think it ever changed the game. a little bit because of the formats, but that’s what we’re going to go out and try to do tomorrow. If we play the best cricket to our abilities, we have a good chance of winning the game.”

Siddharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo

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