We’re at the business end of the tournament and already there have been ups and downs for everyone involved. The only team with a prolonged slump are the Kolkata Knight Riders and I understand a bit of what they are going through as we too struggled last year. Obviously the specifics are different but still, there are similarities.
Last year, Twenty20 was new to us and we got off to a bad start. We tried to get our combination right but nothing seemed to work. This time we have a couple of extra hitters, but equally everyone has also evolved more in terms of the Twenty20 game. There’s more experience, individuals are more aware of the possibilities of what can be done in a short time.
The most important thing is to be on the button all the time. More than in other forms of the game, every catch counts, every misfield makes a difference to the outcome, every dot ball adds pressure. You have to be brave and back your instincts no matter what. That’s a mindset change more than a technical one.
The other thing is that the team has to rally around one or two players on the day. As a batsman you get only 20 overs but you basically control the game. You have to try and maximise once you’re in — once you’ve played 25-30 balls, it should be easier to play the big shots or up the scoring rate than someone who has just come in.
Often it’s just one batsman’s day, and the whole team needs to get behind him, support him and build on his success. When you’re bowling you have to be aggressive and look for wickets. If you try to just keep it quiet, you will invariably go for runs.
Also, you can’t try to ride out a difficult phase. If the ball is doing a bit or a bowler is going well and you try to hang in there with a view to cash in later, it’s not going to work.
When the results are not going your way, the challenge is to look at each game as an individual event, keep away the frustration and be brave till things turn around. If you go in thinking about the last lost match, you’ll only end up making things difficult.
It’s not easy to have such a fearless mindset and we’ve seen that the younger guys can adapt quicker. The way we were brought up, smashing the ball in the air first up isn’t the most natural thing. But the younger guys have grown up with a different way of looking at the game.