'Eagerly awaiting start of series'
Hyderabad, Oct 13: We are eagerly awaiting the start of the ODI and T20 series against England, contrary to what many people will be thinking.
Yes, our performances in the Test series in England were not very impressive, but the fact is that the One-Day series could have gone either way. It is important to focus on the positives and improve upon the negatives, and we have sought to do just that.
Among the gains we made in England were Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel. The challenge of stepping into the ‘opening’ shoes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir might have daunted most people, but Parthiv and Ajinkya responded to it brilliantly. Suresh Raina and I had a couple of fruitful outings in the ODI series in England, as did Virat Kohli. As the senior components of the batting line-up, the onus is on us to defy the opposition bowlers and take the team to secure territory.
Our bowling department wears a new look. I believe the new boys are confident enough of bowling on wickets that are likely to suit the batsmen. They have grown up bowling in these conditions, after all, and know them like the back of their respective hands. Our frontline bowlers of the previous few seasons, who are either injured or have been left out of the squad, need not despair. I have no doubt that they will return with a bang, and that will be fantastic for Indian cricket.
The series will be our first under the revised playing conditions. It will be interesting to see how the batsmen and bowlers adjust to two new balls. As captain, I am looking forward to the challenge of deciding when exactly to take the Power-play between overs no. 15 and 40. I can imagine the spectators, TV viewers, and of course, the opposition, waiting to see what we do, and that might make things more interesting. With the practice of allowing ‘runners’ having been abolished, the players’ fitness and durability will be put to the test. We are professionals, and should be able to adapt.
The record-books state that our ODI record against England at home is outstanding. We beat them 6-1 in the 2005-06 season, and 5-0 three years later. We will therefore aim to complete a ‘hattrick.’ Having said that, at no stage are we going to underestimate our opponents. The current England outfit is far better than its predecessors. Cricket-lovers in India will remember our World Cup game against them at Bengaluru, which went down to the wire. England will begin the series believing that they can replicate their performances on their own soil, in India.
Our objective will be to make a victorious start to the 2011-12 season. We may have not been up to the mark in England, but the fact is that before that tour, we won the game’s biggest prize – the World Cup. Our performances over the past three seasons speak for themselves. I consider myself fortunate to have captained such a wonderful side, and am convinced that it is only a matter of time before we turn the tide.