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Redemption song

cricket Updated: Apr 30, 2010 00:20 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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Jetlagged and dead tired, a few of the Indian cricketers would have been up at 4am on Thursday, wondering where they were and what they were trying to do as a typical tropical shower drenched their plush resort in Rodney Bay. Shirts stuck to backs in the sticky, wet air, the humidity only dipping briefly as a result of the sharp shower.

It wasn't a surprise then, that one of the things on the minds of the team were just how tired everyone was. “If you look at it, the two-hour bus-ride from the airport was more tiring and difficult for us than the last few weeks of the IPL,” Mahendra Singh Dhoni explained. The team begins their assault on the title on May Day against Afghanistan, but this group will have to overcome internal battles rather than the opposition in their quest for glory.

While Dhoni conceded that the ICC's guidelines meant the selectors picked a group early, giving players like Robin Uthappa and Pragyan Ojha little chance to impress with IPL performances, India's captain insisted that the fifteen-man squad picked “would step up to the occasion.

India's journey in T20 World Cups has been a mixed bag. They started the first edition in South Africa in 2007 as rank outsiders and won and experienced a reversal in 2009 in England when they were favourites and were shot out before the semifinals.

“At times you are outplayed, at times your team is not in the best form. It is very important to be in the present,” said Dhoni. “We have a couple of days before we play the first game. It's important to get the most out of it. We are more in control of what is happening right now.”

Dhoni also stressed that despite IPL, the good thing was that none of the players in the squad were carrying a niggle that would affect their performance on the field.

India, as the only team who are not playing any practice matches in the tournament, have to hit the ground running in the opening game.

“If you ask me, I would not consider the Afghanistan match as a practice game. I don't take my opponents lightly,” said Dhoni, pointing to the unknown factor in India's first opponents. “I don't know much about them. In a way that's good, because then your mental preparation will remain the same as if you were playing the best opponent in world cricket. At the end of the day you are representing India and you have to be at your best.”

And that is the long and short of it. The time for Chennai v Mumbai or Royal Challengers v Knight Riders is over. It's India time, and all eyes are on the World Cup.