Men’s ODI WC: Playing semi-final against India at Wankhede is what you dream of, says Rachin Ravindra

Bengaluru, Nov 12 (IANS) New Zealand’s newest batting star Rachin Ravindra believes the upcoming semi-final clash of the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup against hosts India at the Wankhede Stadium is just stuff made up of dreams for him and expects for his side to be level-headed in the highly-anticipated clash.

Ravindra has impressed onlookers with his temperament and technique as a top-order batter in Indian conditions and has amassed 565 runs in nine matches, averaging 70.62 at a strike-rate of 108.44, including hitting three centuries and two fifties.

“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. 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. 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,” said Ravindra in a chat with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) before the team left for Mumbai.

New Zealand had won four matches on the trot before losing four consecutive games and sealed their semi-final qualification with a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, indicating that they are starting to peak ahead of business end of the tournament.

“It’s a pretty special moment like the way the Blackcaps have been playing over the last three-four-five 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. I guess, as a kid you always dream of playing in big knockout games and I’m really excited for the match against India,” added Ravindra.

He also acknowledged the support from his opening partner Devon Conway in being in great nick in the competition. “There are definitely times when Dev (Conway) keeps me in check and keeps me honest, which is very comforting. 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 and flicked balls too, so we know each other’s game well. Hopefully, it translates in the middle in the knockout game against India.”

The left-handed batter, who also bowls left-arm spin, has origins in Bengaluru, the city where his parents hail from and his grandparents still reside in. He enthralled the crowd with a superb century against Pakistan, which went in vain though.

“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 as well as great memories. It’s always nice to connect with family when I’m here. I guess, it’s special to qualify (for the semi-finals) while playing our games in Bengaluru. That pitch is beautiful to bat on. Hopefully, there’s more to it in the future,” he said.

There was some crowd in the stadium chanting his name eloquently and Ravindra expressed his gratitude for the same. “It’s pretty surreal. It’s always a dream with the crowd chanting your name. You feel that energy and vibe when you are out at 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 been pretty special.”

Despite multiple injuries to key players, including to captain Kane Williamson, the Blackcaps have managed to enter the semi-finals and Ravindra credited the depth in the squad for his team being able to enter the knockouts.

“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.”

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