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You dream of playing against India at Wankhede; we will stay level in semis: Rachin Ravindra

New Delhi: Gearing up to live the dream of playing the World Cup semifinal against India in front of a packed Wankhede stadium, New Zealand’s latest batting sensation Rachin Ravindra is confident his side will ‘stay level’ in the high-pressure game on Wednesday.

Ravindra has been a revelation in the World Cup, having scored three centuries so far and is currently placed second on the run-getters’ list behind South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.

“You dream of playing in front of a full crowd against India, who have gone unbeaten at Wankhede, a ground with so much history. We will stay level, we’ll try our best,” Ravindra told New Zealand Cricket.

“We know we can’t win every game of cricket, you might lose (or) you can win every game, so we will see how it plays out,” the 23-year-old, who has so far amassed 565 runs in the nine games, said.

Ravindra, whose grandparents reside in Bengaluru and witnessed him strike a superb century against Pakistan, albeit in a losing cause, believes the Blackcaps have always had several ‘awesome’ players with big-match experience for big occasions.

“We’ve been thinking about the last two World Cups, you’re playing like the most pinnacle games. You play against the Aussies in the MCG, you go to Lord’s against England and now you’re playing India at Wankhede. So, pretty big fixtures, it’s awesome to have the experience of the guys in the team who have done this before.”

The Kiwis were unlucky to lose to Australia in the 2015 World Cup final at MCG and again met with the same fate against England at Lord’s in 2019.

“It’s a pretty special moment like the way the Blackcaps have been playing over the last 3-4-5 World Cups and being in a stage to compete for the finals and be in the knockout stages; it’s a special sort of moment,” he added.

“I guess, as a kid you always dream of playing in big knockout games and I’m really excited for the match against India.”

Bengaluru has a special significance for the youngster because the crowd adores him and goes ecstatic every time he comes out to bat.

“It’s pretty special I guess visiting Bengaluru, a place I’ve visited as a kid, spent a lot of time and made some good mates. It’s always nice to connect with family when I’m here. And, I guess, it’s special to qualify while playing our games in Bengaluru. That pitch is beautiful to bat on. Hopefully, there’s more to it in the future.”

The Blackcaps after losing the November 4 game to Pakistan at the Chinnaswamy Stadium came back strongly at the same venue five days later to crush Sri Lanka and qualify for the semifinals.

On how does he feel about getting so much attention at the Chinnaswamy stadium, Ravindra said, ‘It’s pretty surreal’.

“It’s always a dream with the crowd chanting your name. You feel that energy and you feel that vibe when you are in the middle. I guess that energises you quite a bit.”

“The beauty of batting is you kind of get in your bubble, you hear the crowd in between balls and when you are watching the bowler they fall silent. That’s where batting’s the most fun for me. I appreciate all the support, it’s pretty special.”

Despite a spate of injuries to key players, the Blackcaps have managed to make the knockouts and Ravindra gives credit for it to the depth in the squad “It shows the squad depth that we have. Obviously, we’ve been unlucky with guys that have been ruled out due to injuries and we feel for the guys who have missed out.”

“If you had asked me at the start of the tournament, would you expect to be in such a situation, well may be, maybe not. But we’re taking it in our stride and we keep going on and enjoying our journey,” he said.

Ravindra may have left his senior opening partner Devon Conway far behind on the scoring charts but he says the left-handed batter has a huge influence on his batting.

“There are definitely times when Dev (Conway) keeps me in check and keeps me honest. We’ve spent a lot of time together, we’ve played a lot of cricket together, we’ve helped each other out, we’ve coached each other, so we know each other’s game well. Hopefully, it translates in the middle in the knockout game against India.”

(Published 12 November 2023, 09:45 IST)

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