When under pressure, players turn into pranksters

  • Sanjjeev Karan Samyal, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
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  • Updated: Feb 19, 2011 08:54 IST

You switch on the TV and an expert is talking about your team's chances. You flick the channel and your past performance is being played out. You step out of the training area and you are mobbed by the waiting media for a comment.

Your phone rings and everyone is reminding about the expectations of the billion plus fans. Then there is the team meeting, practice, more practice and more meetings. Being a member of the Indian cricket team could be an unnerving experience at a World Cup at home. And, throw in a tight match, you are ripe for a breakdown.

In this cauldron that is Indian cricket, one key element for the success of MS Dhoni's team will be how they cope with stress. Experts vouch that in these situations nothing works better than a smart one-liner from the character in the team or a trick by the in-house prankster.

That is what clicked for the 1983 batch, reveals Balwinder Singh Sandhu, who brought out a book on the human side of Kapil's Devils.

"One key aspect to our success in 1983 was that we enjoyed each other's company," Sandhu says. Those who have been part of Dhoni's team believe the onus will be on the cool dudes like Harbhajan, Sehwag and Kohli to keep the dressing room a happy, relaxed place.

"Everyone in the team is a character in their own right, and have their own way of easing the mood in the dressing room. Harbhajan is a great character, so is Virat, and Munaf (Patel)," says Robin Uthappa, who played in the 2007 World Cup.

Lalchand Rajput, who was the manager during the World T20 and the 2007-08 tour of Australia, says: "Harbhajan is the biggest character. He releases the pressure in the dressing room. He is a good mimic and imitates the laughter show, 'Comedy Circus' host, Kapil Sharma, very well. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/19_02_pg21a.jpg

"Ashish Nehra is aware of the situation when the pressure is building up and will chip in with his dry sense of humour. 'Chalo yaar bindaas rahon, kuch nahin hoga (C'mon guys be positive, nothing will happen) and he will come up with smart one-liners to ease the tension.

"Sreesanth was another lively character. He will put on the music and start dancing. And, Viru (Sehwag) is just not affected by the situation. 'Kuch nahin hai, coach sahab tension ki koi baat nahin hai (There's nothing, you don't stress coach), he would say in his inimitable, relaxed style, in between breaking into songs."


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