The Australians are known for their ‘never say die’ attitude, the South Africans are known for their machine-like precision, the West Indies are just cool but how does one go about trying to define the way India play their cricket?
Many people say that India’s success on the cricket field has given the nation an identity – but what is that identity?
Is it aggressive? Is it never-say-die? Is it structured? Or is it just an eclectic mixture of many different individuals – each of whom plays in his own style and creates an odd mixture which can sometimes appeal to the masses and at other times, invite a fair bit of criticism.
As India prepare to take on Pakistan in a do-or-die match in the World T20 tournament, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is asking his team to find a way to express themselves in the middle.
“It is also important that we go into the field and just express ourselves because we may not lose badly; we may not have worse game than what happened (against Australia)… so let’s go out there and express ourselves and play our shots and bowl with confidence and whatever the result maybe let’s not care about the result because it is a very different format you cannot do a lot of planning. Just go out, you have the talent, you have the resources just express yourself,” said Dhoni.
And India started preparations for the match by playing football for around an hour and a half at the Colts Cricket Club in Colombo. It was not great football by any standard – most of the players were standing still and not moving around too much. But perhaps the idea was to help their players get the game against Australia out of their minds.
For a change, even though it was an optional nets session, all the players turned up for practice. But they didn’t have a long session in the cricket nets – just around 15 minutes. Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan batted a bit. Virender Sehwag didn’t bat in the nets and perhaps that means he may be left out of the team once again.
However, some range-hitting practice might have helped them get in the groove. In their 3 games in the tournament, India have managed to hit just 7 sixes. In the same period, Pakistan have managed 17 sixes and Australia despite playing a half-finished innings have 19. The West Indies had 11 sixes in just the match against Australia had 11 sixes.
India will hope that their big-hitters namely Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Dhoni come to the party in a big way – a six can go a long way towards changing the momentum of the game and India have just not had that cushion.
Dhoni has said that six-hitting has been difficult on the slow tracks but other teams haven’t experienced the same problems. There are certain joys you experience when you take up a sport for the first time – the joy of discovering something new is prime among them. But right now, one wonders if this team is even enjoying itself in the middle.
Pakistan are pretty confident going into the game after their win in the warm-up game but Dhoni reckons that India have had the edge over their arch-rivals in recent years.
“If you see we are always at the top when it comes to the pressure chain… we have always won that because of the expectation levels back home. We are expected to win everything so I don’t think it can go beyond that limit. It is important to enjoy the game and not think about the result too much.”
The Indian team is focussing on enjoying itself and the best way to do that is to win. Because if Dhoni and his men can’t do that, the tournament is over for them.