This game’s a fresh start: Gambhir
Ahead of the second ODI against England, the Indian team has been working hard under the Kochi heat at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. After a rigorous fielding and training session followed by a football match on the first day, they had an even longer and systematic practice session with the bat and ball on Monday.
Having lost the first match at Rajkot, the MS Dhoni-led side will be keen to level the series with a win here. Speaking to the media in the pre-match press conference, Indian opener, Gautam Gambhir said, “It is very important [to win]. It is a new game, it’s a new start and it’s a new venue. And rather than thinking about what’s happened in the last game, we want to see it as a start of a new series. Just go out there thinking it’s a four-match series rather than thinking we are 0-1 down. We were pretty close. The important thing is that we go out there and [if] we play up to our potential, we are a very dangerous side in our conditions.”
“The wicket seems to be a very good one, just like Rajkot. But the outfield won’t be that quick, so runs won’t be that high. I am looking forward to the game. There is a lot to play for in the series. We are just 0-1 down. The series is not over. I’ve always mentioned that whenever you wear India colours, irrespective of the results you have had, you should be motivated enough to give your best and try and win the game for the country.”
The bowling contingent was the first to arrive at the stadium ahead of the rest of team and worked on sharpening their skills along with bowling coach Joe Dawes.
Looking back at the performance of the bowlers, Gambhir said, “Only bowlers don’t win the match for you, all the 11 players that get on to the field have to do it for you. […] Whenever the batsmen don’t do well, bowlers cover up for them and vice versa. I don’t believe in blaming one area of the game. I think the bowlers are putting in all the hard work, and the way they won the match for us against Pakistan [in Delhi] was commendable. There has been just one match in this series, and unfortunately, the problem here is after every defeat we start talking about form. That’s not the way to look at it. We have to look at the broader picture.”
Speaking about Ishant Sharma, who recently came back into the one-day side, Gambhir said, “I think Ishant Sharma he has done well in the three matches against Pakistan coming back after such a long time in ODI cricket. It’s just in the last game that things didn’t go his way. But he is working hard and he has been bowling really well and the results are there for you to see. If England scored 325, we managed to score 316. So, there wasn’t much difference between their bowlers and our bowlers. Yeah, in last two overs we conceded too many runs and you can say that cost us the match. But I have always believed that it’s not about last two or first five overs, it’s about all 100 overs because a couple of overs don’t win you a game. If you play well till the 100th over, most of the time you get the results in your favour. Unfortunately we lost the game.”
The Ishant Sharma-led bowling attack includes Ashoke Dinda, Shami Ahmed and Bhuvneshwar Kumar amongst others. Kumar who has impressed with ball since his debut against Pakistan and has a first-class century under his belt also strove to make a difference with the bat in the previous game. Speaking about the young pacer, Gambhir said, “Don’t put pressure on such a youngster. He is bowling well and if he contributes with the bat as well, it’s going to be a bonus for us. Sometimes what happens in India is you start putting pressure on a youngster saying that he needs to contribute with the bat as well. He has been bowling well and let’s keep it to that. Let’s leave him free and let him play and enjoy his cricket and hopefully he can deliver for us especially when it matters. He has done really well. Against Pakistan he has shown what he has. He is someone you need to watch out for and hopefully he can shape up as a great cricketer.”
Discussing his own performance at Rajkot, he said, “It was a good game, but I have always believed that if you score runs and team ends up losing there’s no point. Even if you make a small contribution and it helps the team win that will make any batsman or sportsman happy. Yeah, I think I started off well and one thing is once you get a start you need to continue and get a big one. If one of us had got a big score, results would have been different.”
“When you are chasing 325, you need to score at a decent run rate. It’s not like you have plenty of time and can keep playing. So ultimately you have to take your chances even in the middle overs. Yes, someone who gets in needs to score a big one. And that is where we lacked. We got three half-centuries in the last match and no one was able to convert it into a big one. If one of us had carried on till 40th over, it could have been different story.”
Speaking about the opposition, the India opener said, “England has done well but you shouldn’t forget that the last time they were here they lost 5-0. We don’t need to look at what England is doing, we have to see what we have to do as a unit. We are a team who have done well in one-dayers, we are the No.3 ranked side in the world. We need to look at our strengths and minimise our weaknesses. It’s all about thinking what we need to do rather than what they are doing. We have quality players and we have to concentrate on what we can do and look forward. Yeah, last few matches haven’t been encouraging but we are going in right direction, we are putting in a lot of hard work in practice and it’s all about doing the same in the match as well.”
“We contribute as a team, we play as a team,” he added.