The much awaited and anticipated Test series is all set to commence tomorrow at Edgbaston where the World No.1 Test team will be at loggerheads with England.
The Indian team members have been in the best of spirits, and after having played a three-day warm-up game against Essex, the boys look all geared up for the challenge ahead.
Here are excerpts from his media interaction.
On India’s overall preparations
Preparations have been good. Those playing in limited overs got lots of time to adjust, while those players who have come only for Tests got time to prepare well too. They played India ‘A’ matches and the practice game too was good. All of us are in a good frame of mind. Batsmen and bowlers are confident. We are all excited. This is a five-match series and not a two or three-match series, where if things go wrong in one match, desperation sinks in.
On the depth in Indian bowling
I think our bowling attack has matured over the years. They’ve gained experience of playing all around the world and understand conditions,
pitches and opposition batsmen as well. They are pretty comfortable with their games and that is pretty much what happens with the batsmen as well. Our bowlers have come a long way from the last time we toured all these countries. We are a more confident unit now.
On whether India would consider themselves as faovurites or the underdogs?
It doesn’t matter. Whether you are the favourite or the underdog, you still have to go out and perform and do well on the field. If you are an underdog, it’s not a given that pressure will only be on the opposition. Or if you are the favourites, it’s not certain that the underdogs will come out and be fearless the whole time. I think it’s the balance that’s required. We’ve played enough cricket to understand that these are things that happen on the outside. As a professional cricketer, you have to go out there and execute what you are picked for.
On the team selection
You always come up with situations when you're playing such long
seasons. Along with the management, you have to sit down and take a call. It
all boils down to your gut feel. If five people on the table agree that this is the right thing to do for the team, then we go ahead with it. There are no ifs and buts. If we take a decision today we're not going to sit down tomorrow and say, 'Oh we could have done that.' We don't act like that. The decisions are taken in the best interests of the team at that particular time; there's total honesty and total ownership all around the squad.
On whether the excessive chatter about his batting irritates him?
I don't know. Back in the day when I did not know better, these things used to bother me because I used to read a lot. But I genuinely don't read anything. I have no idea what's going on. After the first two Tests in South Africa, I had no idea what was going on. My only focus was on my preparation and where the team has to head. I need to be in the most convinced and the most clear mental space that I can be and that happens when I'm just focused on what I need to do. Very soon, I'm going to complete 10 years...I didn't think 10 years ago that I'd be sitting here in my career. So I have no complaints whatsoever and I'm not in the frame of mind to prove myself in any country. I just want to perform for the team, score runs for the team, and take Indian cricket forward and that's my only motive.
On leading a young side
That's something you need to constantly speak to the team about. You need to make sure that all the players and the management are on the same page. Especially, when you have a long series and you know it's going to be challenging. You cannot afford to have individuals who are drifting away with their mindset. We keep speaking about it regularly. To be among the 15 or 16 players picked for the country when there are so many cricketers, to have the honour of stepping onto the field to play for India...if we are upset about it, there's something wrong. We need to be excited about it, we need to take the good and bad equally and just be grateful for having the chance to represent our country and give our 100% and that's something we're going to be focused on this series.