‘Everybody has that desperation’ – Rohit on his chances of playing and winning 2024 T20 World Cup

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The last one month and six days have been pretty challenging for Rohit Sharma. He has had to find the strength to move on from the World Cup final loss that must have felt at that point like the end of the world. He has since lost his Mumbai Indians captaincy even as there have been talks of him making a T20I comeback as the India captain. He hasn’t played the shortest format for India since semi-final loss in the T20 World Cup in 2022.

As Rohit gears up for the Test series in South Africa, he acknowledged the wink-wink nudge-nudge question around his T20 World Cup prospects but didn’t quite commit either way.

Rohit was asked if some of the senior players see the Tests in South Africa, where they have never won a series, and the T20 World Cup as potential balm for the wounds left by the ODI World Cup heartbreak. He spoke about the significance of the South Africa series, and how everybody – and not just the senior group – is desperate to win there.

Then Rohit was asked if the same desperation exists for the T20 World Cup six months down the line. “Desperation is to play cricket,” Rohit said. “Everybody has that desperation. Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants to do well. Wherever you get a chance, you want to do well. I know what you are trying to say, but you will get the answer in good time.”

This is the first time any party involved has spoken directly or indirectly about the captaincy situation. Hardik Pandya, who captained India in the T20Is last year is out injured with no timeline on a return. Suryakumar Yadav has captained in his absence, but this playful answer from Rohit somewhat confirms his comeback is more than just speculation if not confirmed.

When asked about where he sees himself as a batter and a captain over the next six months, Rohit didn’t speak about the captaincy. “As a batter, I’m batting as well as I could. So yeah, whatever is in front of me, I would look forward to play whatever is in front of me.”

However, there is time to go for the T20 World Cup. India’s first shot at glory, a balm if you will, starts in Centurion on Tuesday. Rohit spoke about moving on from the World Cup loss and the significance of this series.

“Up until that final, the way we played, you know, you expect to go an inch further as well,” Rohit said. “But unfortunately we couldn’t do it. That was the hard part for us, all of us, to take because honestly, all these years, we’ve worked really hard for all this. And then you saw in how we managed to play the first 10 games. And then the finals, there are certain things that we didn’t do well in the finals, which obviously cost us the game, but up until then, I thought there was not many things that we could point out that we didn’t do this right, we didn’t do that right.

Obviously [moving on] from a loss like that, it is hard. But there’s so much happening in life. There’s so much cricket happening. You’ve got to find that strength to move on from that. It took time for me as well to come out of that. But, you know, you gotta look forward. And honestly, we got a lot of encouragement from the outside world after that finals as well. And that motivated me personally to make sure I get up and start doing my job again.”

Can a series win in South Africa heal some of it? “We have been coming here for so many years,” Rohit said. “It will obviously be big if win a series. Now I don’t know if a victory here – if we do get it – can be a balm on the World Cup loss. Honestly I don’t know. A World Cup is a World Cup. It is very difficult to compare this series and the World Cup, but by itself, this is a very big series.

“There is so much history. If we can achieve this, it will feel good to everyone because… we have worked so hard, we need something to show for it. We are working so hard. We need something big. Everyone is desperate for it. Not just one or two seniors. Everybody wants to get big glory for the country and the team. We have all the tools, we just need to play carefree cricket. Our endeavour is to play freely and not think about the past or the future.”

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