Underestimate the opposition at your own peril. India learned this the hard way. As MS Dhoni & Co. start their World Cup campaign against Bangladesh for the second straight edition, the chance to make amends for that infamous loss at the Queen's Park Oval four years ago will be an added motivation for the Men in Blue.
March 17, 2007, is a day that has gone down in notoriety in the annals of Indian cricket, and the scars of that loss against Bangladesh could ensure there is no respite for the neighbours this time around.
Dashing right-handed batsman Robin Uthappa was a part of that defeat, and feels the chance to set the record straight will spur the team on. "For sure That loss had a profound impact on the team, and we were all witness to many unruly scenes (players' effigies were burnt, and a few players' homes were attacked). But, the most important driving factor will come from within… that desire to set things right," the 25-year-old told HT.
Eight members from the squad that fared so poorly in the Caribbean, including the likes of MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan, are back for another tilt, and Uthappa expects them to head into the opener with a point to prove. "I have no recollection of that match. But, I feel that the loss still rankles quite a few players, and you can bet on them going all out on Saturday," he added.
Noted sport psychologist Bishmaraj Bam, who trained India's shooting contingent for the Delhi Games, feels the humiliation will stand the current bunch in good stead. "Professionals are never short on motivation, but in this case, the defeat will make them give that extra effort which is often the difference between winning and losing," Bam told HT.
Citing the example of recently-retired Brazilian football star Ronaldo, who suffered a fit before the final at France '98, and went through an injury-plagued four years before making amends in the 2002 World Cup final against Germany at Yokohama, Bam said, "When great sportsmen fail to make the most of an opportunity, it plays on their mind, and when they are in a similar situation again they make sure not to let it slip again. Look at Ronaldo, after a horror final in 1998 he came back stronger, and when he got his chance in 2002 he made the most of it."