So, once again the hopes of Indian fans will be high from tomorrow, when team India will go through another acid test in the first Test match against New Zealand. This is a golden chance for the team India to gather themselves and perform beyond their capabilities. In view of the good performance of team India during the two-day practice match, all they have got to do is to put on a similar show.
If they start well, it would put some psychological pressure on New Zealand that team India has now regained its lost self esteem and confidence. On a personal note, I strongly believe that it has become imperative for our bowlers to excel more than ever. They are the ones under pressure. Our batting lineup is still capable of taking the score up to a reasonable level, despite the failure of openers. In fact, if any three of the mainstream batsmen are able to strike, and the lower order batsmen give reasonable support, we can score 400+.
Also, by now, the prime Indian batsmen have got a taste of the bouncy tracks of New Zealand. After having played quite a few matches, they also know the particular strengths of the individual bowlers of New Zealand. Likewise, our bowlers, particularly the young ones, have observed as to what length they are required to bowl. The tight bowling by Ishwar Pandey in his first ever away match is a good example of the fact that we are getting accustomed to the local conditions out there and simply need to adapt to them.
Hopefully, with the availability of veteran Zaheer Khan to lead the bowling attack, things will turn around. We also have Mohammad Shami whose confidence is high and in case Pandey is given the chance, he can be an unknown quantity for the opposition. They will hopefully be able to make a mark.
Shami has been able to get timely wickets – though his high economy rate nullifies the impact a bit. But here, with the presence of Zaheer Khan, all our bowlers will be able to get his valuable advice, which will prove handy. Also, R Ashwin might rediscover his magic with the ball. He has got to strike well to contain the run rate and secure his position in the team.
Also, the coach must have given the message loud and clear to the batsmen that there is no big hurry and their focus should be on defending their wickets first and then build the innings gradually. Recently, Sunil Gavaskar has very clearly said that there should be no room for the non-performers (attention: Dhawan, Raina). Partnerships should also be a focal point for the batsmen. For the bowlers, the only expectation should be that they should not bowl any short and wide deliveries.
The most vital advice for all of them would be to get their rhythm, not to panic and to stay calm. This is just another series and not the ultimate World Cup. For the supporters I intend to make a humble submission that our support is vital in forming a positive environment, so we must encourage MSD who has already given us unlimited delightful victories.
If one observes minutely, team India has lost more on account of their own mistakes rather than the performances of the players of New Zealand. Most of our batsmen have unfortunately lost their confidence and somehow did not play to their fullest capacity. But at the same time, team India is known for having a unique fighting spirit – especially when we are pushed to perform. Let us hope we will be able to compensate the earlier defeats by snatching both the tests. Amen.
I intend to quote just two examples of the ability within team India – firstly Ravindra Jadeja, who had displayed his batting skills in front of the same bowlers and was able to tie one ODI match with his tremendous fighting spirit and superb determination. Secondly, Virat Kohli played them in a fairly easy manner in the first two matches. These examples show that India can do well on these pitches as well!
This is the moral of the story – we have got splendid in-built fighting spirit and in the recent past, especially during the Champions Trophy, we have displayed this. Once we got our rhythm back and play without bothering about the end result, impossible is nothing. The whole world is waiting to see you boys strike. Best wishes warriors!