Rohit Sharma hails Australia as Complete Side

Rohit Sharma has offered praise to World Cup final opponents Australia, hailing Pat Cummins' challengers as a "very complete side".

The Indian captain, who's overseen a magnificent unbeaten 10-match procession towards the Ahmedabad climax, was quick to counter a questioner at his eve-of-final news conference who'd suggested Australia were no longer seen as a "dominant" side.

"I don't agree with not being dominant. They've won eight out of eight, the last eight games that they've played — and they played it really well," said Sharma.

"So, it's going to be a good contest.

"They are a very complete side."

But the hosts' 36-year-old skipper, whose side will have the hopes of 1.4 billion resting on their shoulders on Sunday, reckoned they were in a "calm and composed" mood as they approached a game that will bring India to a standstill.

"The nation wants to know whether the team is calm, quiet, and composed for the final?" an evidently worried journalist asked Sharma.

"Come to the ground you will see the players," was the response. "Leading up to every game, we've been quite composed, quite calm about what we want to do.

"We know how it is outside our environment — the expectations, the pressure, the criticism, and everything.

"So, it's important we stick to our strengths and what we want to do as a team. We have tried to maintain that calmness around the dressing room.

"I just want to keep it nice and relaxed and calm and not get too emotional thinking about what happened in 2011 (when they last won the Cup on home soil) or what can happen tomorrow."

As for whether his side now had the sort of aura around them that Ricky Ponting's Australians had enjoyed in the 2003 final when they hammered India in Johannesburg, Sharma shrugged: "I don't believe in that aura and all that … I don't believe in what we did in the last 10 matches."

Describing his side's bowling over the past six weeks as consistently the best he'd seen, Sharma wasn't ruling out the prospect of changes for the decider, with a third spinner Ravichandran Ashwin perhaps being drafted in despite only playing once so far in the tournament.

"Look, we haven't decided anything yet," said Sharma. "But anyone from 15 can play."

Sharma also gave short shrift to the idea floated by Cummins that Australia held an advantage in experience with so many of their players having already won the Cup in 2015.

"In my opinion, that can't be such an advantage," said Sharma.

"They have the experience of playing the finals, but when you play such a tournament — and we're talking about eight years later — the players' current form, current state of mind, is more important than that.

"Our team has also played a lot of finals — not World Cup finals, but a lot of finals.

"For me, this is the biggest event. Since childhood, I've grown up watching the 50-over World Cup, so this is the biggest moment. But I know that I have to focus on what my team needs, and I want to put aside everything else."


Story first published on ABC News

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