After days of talk on what players should say and what they should not, the focus shifted back on cricket on Friday. The Australians were playing in Melbourne, while at the Sydney Cricket Ground the Indians ended two days of rest, turning up for practice late in the afternoon.
After dissecting for two days what exactly an “obnoxious little weed” meant and whether a player is entitled to such an opinion of another player in the days of unending controversies, it was time to return to cricket and the Indian team looked relaxed, a little too relaxed to be true, at the nets. It was understandable to an extent as well, because coming off the hostilities of the last few days, it wasn’t easy to get intensely active with cricket straightaway.
So the bowlers took longer than usual to limber up and bowl at full steam, the batsmen were seen attempting a few big shots too many and Virender Sehwag was bowling medium-pace. They were there at full strength barring Manoj Tiwary, who had two teeth extracted in the morning. The fans turned out in good numbers too, cheering every shot vociferously from behind the nets.
The team thought it prudent to send Rohit Sharma to the interaction with the media despite thoughts doing the rounds that after all that had happened, probably someone more senior would have suited the bill better. But that’s how strange things can be with the Indian team at times, so not too many were taken by surprise.
The youngster was asked what message the likes of him in the side had received from their seniors in the aftermath of Matthew Hayden’s unsolicited and unwanted remarks on certain Indians. “Nothing,” came the surprising reply before he added that they had been told to concentrate on cricket and the finals.
“We have been asked not to think about what has happened in the past on and off the field. We have tried to stay away from such talks and in fact have been told not to get involved in such talks. We have a big final coming up and are confident of putting up a good show. If we win it, it will a huge jump for us,” the batsman said.
Reminded that Australia held a 2-1 edge over India in terms of face-to-face record in the tri-series, Sharma said it was closer than it looks. “We lost two alright but there were positives from those defeats for us. We got them out for a low score in one of those games while in the last match, we went close to their total and made almost 300 from 50 for four.”
That was confidence and in keeping with what has been the trait of this younger lot, Sharma added the team was very confident ahead of the finals, come what may. Despite the slight edge Australia hold and their far superior record in finals as compared to India, this team has reason to be positive.
Not short on motivation the top order showed signs of leaving the lean patch behind, and with the bowling department doing as ever, India know they can beat Australia, having done it once already. If they hold nerves and play to potential, Sunday should mark the beginning of an exciting end to an eventful series.