Rohit says India 'always under pressure' to end World Cup drought

'Always pressure': India captain Rohit Sharma (Chandan Khanna)
'Always pressure': India captain Rohit Sharma (Chandan Khanna)

India captain Rohit Sharma admitted Wednesday his team is "always under pressure" to end a world title drought which has now stretched to over a decade.

India tackle defending champions England in the second semi-final of the T20 World Cup on Thursday.

The cricket superpower won the inaugural edition in 2007 and were runners-up in 2014.

Their last 50-over World Cup triumph, meanwhile, came on home soil in 2011.

When the tournament returned to India in 2023, Rohit's side were comfortably defeated by Australia in the final despite having won all 10 games on their way to the championship match.

"The Indian cricket team is always under pressure. That's the fact. And it's not just now. It's been since the time I started playing," said Rohit.

Since the 2011 World Cup win, India's lone silverware came courtesy of the 2013 Champions Trophy, a competition restricted to eight Test-playing nations.

In the two World Test Championship finals played in 2021 and 2023, India were runners-up.

India have won 12 of 23 T20 meetings with England but they were crushed by 10 wickets by Jos Buttler's side in the 2022 World Cup semi-final in Adelaide.

Chasing 169 to win, England openers Buttler and Alex Hales knocked off the runs with four overs to spare in a devastating 170-run partnership.

Seven of that India team are in the 2024 squad, including Rohit as well as Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya who both made half-centuries in that game.

Rohit is desperate his team does not start looking beyond Thursday's match by considering their possible chances in the final on Saturday against either South Africa or Afghanistan.

"Everyone knows in the back of their mind it's a semi-final," said Rohit.

Just like the World Cup last year, India have reached Thursday's semi-final without losing. They have six wins in six games while a seventh match was washed out.

Their only real scare came in a six-run victory over old rivals Pakistan in the first round group stage.

"We've been put under pressure in certain games during this tournament, but I thought we responded pretty well," said Rohit.

"That is probably because we're not thinking too far ahead. Sometimes if you think too much, sometimes you then will not be able to make the decisions that you want to make on the field.

"It's important that we stay clear in our mind what we want to do."

India swept through the second round Super Eight stage, batting first and seeing off Afghanistan, Bangladesh and then Australia.

In their 24-run win over Australia in Antigua, India piled up their biggest total of the World Cup of 205-5 in 20 overs.

Rohit led the way with a blistering 92 off 41 balls.

"I think that was the big one for us," said the skipper.

"When you play a game against a quality team and when you win like that, everything falling into place, that can give you so much confidence and I think this format is all about confidence.

"We know the batting line-up that Australia has. No score is safe. But for us to defend and win by 20-odd runs was a great confidence boost moving ahead and into this game (on Thursday)."