India captain Rohit Sharma insisted his side’s record of big game defeats by New Zealand was “all in the past” as they prepared to face the Black Caps in the first ICC Men’s ODI World Cup semi-final.

Tournament hosts India head into Wednesday’s showpiece match at Sharma’s home ground, Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai as the outstanding side of the 10-team event, having won all nine of their round-robin games to qualify for the knockout phase in style.

But four years ago a team featuring several of the same players, including Sharma and star batter Virat Kohli, were members of an India side that suffered an agonising 18-run defeat by New Zealand in a rain-affected World Cup semi-final spanning two days in Manchester.

New Zealand also defeated India in the inaugural 2021 World Test Championship final.

The Wankhede stadium was the venue when India defeated Sri Lanka in a 2011 final to win their second World Cup title following a 1983 triumph in England under captain Kapil Dev.

The build-up to Wednesday’s game has seen much speculation about whether Sharma’s men can join those celebrated teams as World Cup champions of whether New Zealand, who gave India a run for their money before going down by four wickets in pool play, will prove their downfall once again.

The Indian captain, however, insisted his focus was firmly on the here and now.

“That’s the beauty of this team,” he told a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“None of the guys were born when we won our first World Cup and then, when we won our second World Cup in 2011, half of the guys were not even playing the game.”

He added: “This current crop of players is very much into what is happening today, what can happen tomorrow. The focus is on how they can get better as a player, what they can bring to the team and the things they can improve.”

‘Mandatory pressure’

Sharma said while a semi-final was a high pressure situation, his side were always under intense scrutiny in cricket-crazy India.

“If you are an Indian cricketer, then whatever the format, whatever the tournament, there is always pressure. Because you hear the same voice from everywhere that we have to win the match tomorrow...So, I think in terms of pressure, it becomes mandatory for Indian cricketers.

“There is pressure, but we have tried so hard in all these years to keep that aside and focus more on our game, strategy, and the way we play,” he added.

Before this World Cup, the Indian captain spoke about having “unfinished business”, with the 36-year-old saying on Wednesday: “Now it’s just about business, the pure business of getting the job done for the team.”

Kohli, who now needs just one more century to surpass the record of 49 ODI hundreds he shares with former India team-mate Sachin Tendulkar, is this tournament’s leading batsman with 594 runs – and Sharma is not far behind on 503.

India also boast a formidable fast-bowling line-up in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami, and two fine spinners in Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav.

But the opening batter said he was well aware of the threat posed by New Zealand, beaten finalists at the last two World Cups.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is coming into form after injury and the Black Caps’ attack will be led by experienced left-arm fast bowler Trent Boult.

“They are probably the most disciplined team, they play their cricket very smartly, they understand the opposition very well,” said Sharma.