Rohit Sharma will only consider his World Cup a success if he lifts the trophy at Lord’s, despite etching his name in the history books as the first man to hit five hundreds at a tournament.
The graceful 32-year-old arrived at Headingley level with Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara, who scored four in a row at the 2015 edition, and stroked his way to a superb 103.
Rohit’s runs, allied to 111 from the bat of opening partner KL Rahul, set his side up for a seven-wicket win and followed earlier tons against South Africa, Pakistan, England and Bangladesh to leave him top of the scoring charts with 647.
As dominant as he has been individually, there is only one goal occupying his mind.
“We are here for a mission and that mission is not yet completed,” he said.
“I’m not here for records, I’m here to play cricket. I’m here to score runs and lift the cup. We have to wait four years for this and the job is to go and win the semi and the final. As long as that is not complete you don’t feel satisfied.
“Winning is important, no matter how many runs you score or how many wickets you take.”
India did not know who they would be facing in the final four as they began their celebrations, with Australia’s result against South Africa ultimately settling the match-ups.
Captain Virat Kohli instead chose to focus on the performances within his own dressing room, reflecting happily on a record of seven wins and just one defeat in the group stage.
“England or New Zealand next? The opposition has never mattered,” he said.
“We don’t focus on what they bring to the table. If we play well we can beat anyone, if we don’t play well anyone can beat us. Regardless of who we play we want to get the result our way.
“We wanted to play good cricket but we didn’t expect to do this well heading into the semis. That’s what hard work gets you. I am really proud of this team.”
Kohli’s opposite number Dimuth Karunaratne will soon set about the job of lifting his own team after a disappointing sixth-placed finish, but used his final appearance of the tournament to nominate India as the team to beat in the knockouts.
Sri Lanka were thrashed by the Black Caps and Australia but upset hosts England in the biggest surprise of the event.
“I think India has a good balance to their team: nice spinners, good fast bowlers and their top order keeps scoring hundreds,” he said.
“India has the better chance to win the World Cup from my point of view, but any team on a particular day who can do better than them is definitely going to win it.”
Karunaratne also paid tribute to veteran seamer Lasith Malinga, playing his final World Cup game. He is the third highest wicket-taker in the competition’s history, the only man to take two hat-tricks as well as four in four balls.
“Sri Lanka cricket will miss him. He has done a lot of things for Sri Lanka,” said the skipper. “We will miss him but everyone has to end their chapter. Now is his time. We have to find a new guy who can get wickets.”
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