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Redemption In Blue

I fall back on the good times I have had before and it makes me think positively. I believe if I have done it before, I can do it again.

Redemption In Blue
Redemption In Blue
The game against Zimbabwe has helped our chances of making it to the Super Six. It was very important to win at Harare, not just for the four points, but also to regroup ourselves. Sachin and Sehwag played positive cricket. The way we batted in the first 15 overs, I would say, was the defining period of the match. Our bowlers too showed that we are not just a batting side—Ashish Nehra touched the late 140s consistently. We fielded well too. In many ways we found our lost touch at Harare, though we could have done much better. I thought the total of 255 was a good score—after helping the batsmen initially, the pitch slowed down a bit.

Needless to say, the win was a big relief to all of us—it helped ease a lot of pressure which was building up after the match against Australia. Our matches with England and Pakistan will clearly decide which teams get into the Super Six from Pool A. I think we have a good chance of making it. All we have to do is to live up to our talent. I want to persist with the younger players though some of them have not been very successful in the recent past. I have a lot of faith in Kaif—he's not just a match-winner with the bat, but also very crucial on the field. At this point, I don't want to break their confidence by dropping any of them.

My going down the batting order is for the team's sake. When Sachin did the same, despite great success as an opener, he did it for the team. Now it's my turn to do the same. I am comfortable with it. It's a position I have batted at before.

After the match against Australia, I was disappointed with the manner in which some of our supporters reacted to our loss. It was a totally avoidable behaviour. I am surprised that the Indian fans, our greatest source of strength all these years, do not understand that it's early days yet in the Cup and that all our crucial pool matches come towards the end. There is so much hype around the World Cup back home and the way we have played in the last one year too has raised expectations. These factors together annoy the fans when we perform badly. The way we lost to Australia was disappointing, but it was more so for us, the players. Though it was all unpleasant, the boys are all tough professionals. They were a little upset, but their focus was on the next game. I didn't have to meet the boys and make them feel better. Yes, maybe I miss Sandy Gordon in such situations, but as I said, we are professional sportsmen. We can handle such extreme reactions. The match against Australia was just one of those days when everything goes wrong. Not everything in cricket can be fully explained. We ourselves didn't understand how the wickets just kept falling. I do believe that we have an excellent batting line-up. It's just that we don't apply ourselves well enough sometimes—we make poor shot selections and get out. This batting line-up simply has no excuse not to bat out the full 50 overs.

I am trying very hard to get over my own bad phase. I felt I was doing well in the match against Zimbabwe, and then I played a bad shot. I am confident I will overcome this bad patch—I have fought it before and I will fight it again. In 14 World Cup matches, I have made five hundreds and two nineties. If the past holds any meaning, then I will make a comeback. Nobody can take away the fact that I have scored over 8,000 runs in one-day cricket at an average of over 40. I know that one cannot live in the past alone, but my own record is a source of confidence to me. In such times, I fall back on the good times I have had before and it makes me think positively. I believe if I have done it before, I can do it again.

This is also the most difficult phase of my captaincy. All captains go through a rough patch when the team is not doing justice to its reputation.But in my case, I must find my own form first. Captaining India is a tough job, but it's something I love intensely. Not for a moment have I put my head down.

The man with the most difficult job takes time out to give a unique perspective on the road ahead. He is covering the World Cup exclusively for Outlook.

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