India captain Rohit Sharma on Saturday said that it is too early to start thinking about the 2023 ICC Men’s ODI World Cup ahead of the team’s first ODI against Bangladesh.

India will is scheduled to play six bilateral series and the Asia Cup before next year’s home World Cup. The three-match ODI series begins in Dhaka on Sunday, with India also playing two Tests during their month-long visit.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Sharma said “Every time you play a game, it is preparation for something that is going to come in the future. But the World Cup is still eight to nine months from now. We can’t think so far ahead. But yeah, we’ll keep an eye on what we need to do as a team, where we can improve, and see how it comes along for us.”

“I think it’s very, very important for us not to start thinking about so many things about the World Cup; this is the combination, that is the combination, we need to play this guy, that guy. Me and coach (Rahul Dravid) have a fair idea as to what we want to do, and we’ll narrow it down once we get closer to the World Cup. But we just want to play good cricket until the World Cup,” he added.

Sharma along with vice captain KL Rahul and Virat Kohli return to the ODI side having been rested for the tour of New Zealand. India have also evidently opted to rest Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Speaking on the importance of rotating the squad, Sharma said, “People need to understand at times that we rest players. Give them a break. It’s only to manage the workload keeping the bigger picture in mind. Cricket is not going to stop; there’s always going to be lots of cricket. But we have to manage ourselves and our players. You want your best players to play all the time, and with higher intensity all the time. So it’s important to give them that break and manage them.”

“The freshness of the players is also important. A lot of the guys have been on the road since before the World Cup. We played two series at home against Australia and South Africa, and we travelled straight to the World Cup from there. Some of the guys went to New Zealand, so they’ve been out for virtually two-and-a-half months,” he added.

“It’s impossible in this day and age where you will always play with your best 15, it’s not going to happen. You will always have to rotate, you have to see what is best that you can get from the players. Because like I said, the calendar is very busy and it is going to stay like that. But what we can do from our side is manage the players and keep them fresh whenever they have to play,” the captain said.

Speaking about the series, Sharma said that the month-long tour of Bangladesh will be “no cakewalk”, with several veterans returning to bolster the tourists’ ranks after a lacklustre run abroad.

“It’s going to be an exciting series. They are playing in their own backyard so we expect them to challenge us in every bit – batting, bowling and fielding,” he said. “So we have to be at our best.”

Indian men have an overall 30-5 lead over the Tigers in 50-overs matches but lost their last series tour of Bangladesh 2-1 in 2015. Sharma said Bangladesh have evolved into a “different team” since then and could be expected to put up a strong fight.

“They are a very challenging team and we have not had easy wins against them,” he said. “By no means do we come here thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk for us.”

Injuries have taken a toll on the hosts, with regular skipper Tamim Iqbal and in-form fast bowler Taskin Ahmed both out.

Opening batsman Liton Das will make his debut as ODI captain and said he was looking forward to giving India a tough battle.

“India is a good side, they have both fame and form,” he told reporters. “But we are playing good cricket against them these days. The big thing is that they don’t consider us the underdog anymore.”

With AFP inputs

Watch Rohit Sharma’s press conference here.