Like coach Rahul Dravid, captain Rohit Sharma also downplayed the fatigue following continuous cricket. However, the pressure is on India to win the mace in what will be their second appearance at the WTC final.

ICC WTC Final: Rahul Dravid on conditions at The Oval, Ajinkya Rahane’s return and more

One of the most consistent teams throughout the last two WTC cycles, India have played impressive cricket across formats but an ICC trophy has eluded them since 2013.

Meanwhile, a largely well-rested, fresh Australian side led by Pat Cummins are backing themselves to win the title and also warm up for the Ashes in the process.

Ahead of the high-octane clash at The Oval, the Indian captain addressed the pressure around the lack of ICC trophies, the playing combination, adaptability and more.

Here is a transcript of the press conference as provided by ICC:

This is the first time a Test match will be played in June at this ground. Keeping that in mind and keeping the weather, your thoughts on the combination?

Yeah, look, we’ve been hearing about not much of cricket being played here in June, but the county season actually has been played here. We saw there was a game played a couple of weeks back here. So, it’s not like it’s the first game of the season happening on this ground. We are quite aware of what the conditions are, what is going to happen in the next five days. The weather forecast looks all right. But yeah, in terms of the combination, I think it’s better that we wait till tomorrow. That’s a common answer, I think.

India has not won the ICC tournament for so long. Is this thing playing in your mind? Like an extra added pressure that India has not won the ICC tournament for so many days.

No, see we know what we have won and what we have not won. There is no point in thinking about it again and again. Last year when we were in Australia for the T20 World Cup, we were asked the same question, and I answered the same question. The players know when India won and when they didn’t. I don’t think it is right to think about it again and again. You have to focus on the situation and how we can do better. All the players and coaching staff are focused on how we can do well in this match and win. Because what has happened and what is going to happen in the future, there is no point in thinking about that. It is very important to think about the present. Our team’s focus is on how we will win this match.

You said you are going to wait until tomorrow to decide upon the team but how difficult is it to essentially leave out a player like Ravi Ashwin when you consider all that he’s achieved in test cricket if you don’t play two spinners?

I’ve not said that Ashwin is not going to play. We’ll wait until tomorrow - because one thing I have seen here - the pitch actually changes quite a bit day to day. Today it’s looking the way it is. Tomorrow it might be slightly different, who knows. So the message to the boys has been very clear, all 15 must be ready to play at any point in time. And we’ll see the conditions tomorrow as well and make that decision as to who gets into that playing 11.

This is one of the second or third World Title kind of event that you’re going to be leading. It’s not been such a long time that you’ve been in the seat also. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind by the time whenever you decide to leave the captaincy?

See, obviously I’ve gotten the job to make sure that we take Indian cricket forward every time whoever it is, whether it’s me or someone else, even the guys before, their role was to take Indian cricket forward and win as many games, as many championships as possible. For me also, it will be the same. I want to win games, I want to win championships. That is what you play for. And yeah, it will be nice to win some titles, win some extraordinary series.
But yeah, like having said that, I genuinely feel that we don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves by overthinking about these kind of stuff. As a captain, like I said, every captain wants to win championships, So I’ll be no different. I also want to win championship. And that’s what the sport is all about, winning championship. So for me, it’ll be nice if I can win one or two championships, as in when I decide to move on from this job. So it’ll be nice. So we’ll wait and see what happens. Tomorrow, we’ll start another challenging - the next five days will be quite challenging for us and gives us the opportunity to win the championship, but we do understand that winning the championship is not easy. You got to do a lot of things right to win the championship. Right now the focus is just on that, how we can come out on top and do well in this game. So the talks, the preparation has just been around that. I haven’t really thought about what is going to happen in the future. Honestly, it’s always nice because I’m somebody who’s always believed that what you have in front of you, focus on that rather than thinking way too ahead, what can happen in the future, what kind of things you want to do. But yeah, there are certain things that I’ve set in my mind that I want to do. So hopefully I can achieve that.

Also read: ICC WTC final: Australia or India? Ravi Shastri, Ricky Ponting and Wasim Akram pick favourites

Recently, Ricky Ponting said that English conditions will suit Australia more than India. So what is your take on this neutral venue?

That’s his point of view. He’s allowed to give his opinion. Only time will tell which team has used the conditions really well. You know, the people who are watching the game, the experts, they’ll have their opinion, they’ll talk a lot of things before the start of a championship like that, a build-up to the championship. But honestly - for us, it doesn’t really matter because we know what is at stake and we need to focus on that. And that is what the team is going to do. Whoever uses the conditions really well, probably will win the game. As simple as that. And also handling the pressure during the course of this five days because there will be times where the teams will be under pressure in this five days so you just got to adapt and handle that pressure really well to come out on top.

You talk about adaptability - I know during the Border - Gavaskar Trophy also, you talked about preparations, how important it is. So English conditions, we all know that is the toughest place for an opening batter to face the Red Dukes. And we will have an early start also. So for someone like Shubman Gill who will be playing his first test match in England, what is going to be your advice to him?

Actually the way he is batting at the moment, I don’t think he needs any advice. It’s just about his preparation, how he has prepared in the last 5 or 6 days since he has come back from the IPL. He has played in these conditions before. He played that World Test Championship final and then he played that one-off test match which happened last year as well. You know Gil is somebody who likes to bat. You know he’s a batter who likes to bat, likes to spend a lot of time in the middle, as you saw. I know even though it was a T20 format, but you saw he got big, big hundreds. Likes to be out there in the middle, you know, and face that challenge. That is what he likes, and that is what I will also hope and Team India will also hope that he spends a lot of time in the middle and play well like he has been doing in the last 6 or 8 months - so to be honest not really too much to tell him. It’s just about giving him that confidence, because he’s a very confident player. So it’s just about, giving him more and more confidence.

You spoke about the team which handles the pressure better. So what exactly do you tell this team a day before the game, in terms of how to handle the pressure? You know, it’s a knockout game also. So just a little bit about that and have you had a look at the wicket? What did you make of that?

I cannot talk to anyone right now because there’s not many guys who have turned up today. But we’re going to have a team briefing today evening. But yeah, look, since the time we’ve come here, the talk has been around, how we can play well, what are the things we need to do as a team. A lot of the guys in our squad are quite experienced right now - and they have been in the situation where there was too much pressure and they’ve come out on top. So, you know, every individual at some stage of their career have faced that kind of pressure. So it’s just putting themselves in those situations and thinking about it. Whoever takes the field tomorrow has or have gone through that kind of pressure before in their career. So I don’t think I need to talk to them personally about how to handle those situations. They have handled it pretty well. Like I said, whoever it is from the playing XI, at some stage they have faced that pressure. It’s just about handling that pressure, thinking about what are the right things to do under pressure at that point in time. And if we can do that all well, I think we will have a good time out in the middle.

And talking about the pitch, I saw it yesterday, I didn’t have a chance to see it today. 9.15 was the press conference, never thought it will be so early. I’ll go and have a look at the pitch. But yeah, it looks a bit of help for the seamers definitely. With the overhead conditions as well, it’s going to assist seamers a fair bit. I don’t know how drastically the pitch changes quite a bit in this part of the world. Like, when we played the last test match here in Oval, it looked very similar to this. And then as the game went on, as the day went on, it got better and better, slower and slower. And the reverse swing came into play as well on day 5th. So, yeah, we’re going to consider all of those factors and see what will be the right combination for us to go.

WTC Final: As India take on Australia, a look at the key talking points for Rohit Sharma and Co

This is obviously the second time India have been in this final. Is there anything you’ve learnt from the game against New Zealand that could be useful to you in this match?

Yeah, look, last time we played, we did make a few mistakes, which we have already spoken about in this group. Obviously, there are a few guys missing from that squad. But yeah, I mean, we are quite excited about the score as well. You know, it’s a good challenge to have. And yeah, we know exactly what went wrong for us in the last championship final. So we hopefully will not repeat those kind of things. That is all you want to do as a sportsman. You don’t want to repeat mistakes that can get the better results eventually. So we’ve played the opposition a fair bit in the last two or three months so we know what they are capable of - so it’s just about considering all the factors and pulling it through.

After two months of rigorously shuttling down from one city to another during the IPL, how would you recover from the fatigue? Or it is still continuing?

We’ve been playing cricket like this for the last, I don’t know how many years, series after series. I don’t know when was the last time we had a good amount of break. But honestly, all the guys are used to playing a lot of cricket now. That is why we talk about this workload management. We try and rest players wherever we can to make sure that they are fresh for this upcoming series and things like that. This is part of your job now. You do understand that there’s a lot of cricket that has been played. But it’s important to manage the players, manage their loads, make sure that they’re fresh and we are trying everything we can from our side to make sure that everyone’s fresh and it’s not just now - even last year we played IPL, then we came to UK we played that test match and then we played three ODIs, three T20s after that. So it’s been happening almost every year now like that. So it’s nothing new for us. We are quite used to this kind of schedule. But that is where the management comes into play of managing players and their workloads.

Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.