Rohit Sharma highlights the importance of India’s work ethic ahead of final

India captain Rohit Sharma has urged his team-mates to contain their emotions as they prepare for a home World Cup final that represents “the biggest moment” of their sporting lives.

Twelve years since their last triumph on the global stage, cricket’s superpower nation is one game away from glory as the duo battle with Australia in Ahmedabad.

Expectations in the country are sky high after a flawless 10-match winning streak, which started with a group stage win over the Australians on October 8, and victory in front of more than 100,000 home fans would surely be the crowning achievement for a generation of Indian players.

Sharma is the man who stands at the centre of the storm and, while he makes no attempt to shy away from the magnitude of the situation, he feels it is crucial that his side do not get side-tracked or blown off course by it.

“Emotionally it’s a big thing, a big occasion. Whatever hard work and dreams you have, you have for this. That day is in front of us,” he said.

“But the biggest challenge for professional athletes is how they can put all this aside and focus on their work. So along with me, all the other 10 players who will play tomorrow, their focus will be more on their work for the team, rather than thinking, ‘this is the biggest moment of my life’.

“Of course it is, there is no doubt. In the back of the mind it is there, you can’t hide from that. But it’s really important to remain calm in such situations because if you are calm and composed, then you can play your role and you can make good decisions in the pressure situation.

“The occasion is very big. You don’t get such occasions every time. You don’t get a chance to play in the finals every time. Since childhood, I’ve grown up watching the 50-over World Cup so, for me, this is the biggest moment. But I know that I have to focus on what my team needs me to do. And I want to put aside everything else for a while.

“I know the importance of tomorrow. So, I just want to keep it nice and relaxed and calm and not get too emotional thinking about what happened in 2011 or what can happen tomorrow.”

Mohammed Shami has gone from reserve to main man at the World Cup.
Mohammed Shami has gone from reserve to main man at the World Cup (Mike Egerton/PA)

India are keeping open the option of drafting Ravichandran Ashwin into their XI as a third spin option, even though he has played just once in the tournament to date.

They will look long and hard at the pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium, a  surface last used for their win over Pakistan 37 days ago, and could be tempted if it looks likely to take lots of turn.

One player who will not be making way is Mohammed Shami, who started the World Cup running drinks and has gone on to make himself undroppable. Despite making just six appearances he is the tournament’s top wicket-taker with 23. Seven of those came during a career-best haul in the semi-final against New Zealand and he looks primed for another starring role.

Paying tribute to the experienced seamer, Sharma said: “It was tough for him to not play the initial part of the World Cup but he was there for the team.

“He was there to help Mohammed Siraj, he was there to help Jasprit Bumrah in whatever ways he could. And that shows the quality of him being the team man that he is.

“We had a chat with him about why he missed out and obviously, on the sidelines, he was working on his bowling. The results are there for everyone to see how he has come back from that. Once the opportunity opened up for him, he was right there.”