He was dropped from the squad against Australia and then jaundice prevented his return following an unexpected call up as injury replacement for what proved to be a historic series-ender on home turf. But Gautam Gambhir has no regrets. Now, as always, the left-handed opener wants to simplify his cricket, and life. Excerpts:
Ready for the IPL?
I'm feeling much better now (after the illness), I trained for about half-an-hour yesterday (on Wednesday). I started off slowly as I hadn't played for about 10 days, and the fatigue is still there. But I should most probably be available for the first match (April 3). We have a long break after that, which should give me enough time to recuperate.
Health apart, do you feel in good nick?
I've been hitting the ball well, but IPL is a different ball game. In the past month or so, I've only played domestic cricket. The pressure and the quality of the game are much higher in the IPL.
On India's historic whitewash of Australia
I'm very happy - whether you play in India or abroad, 4-0 is a great result. That said, even when we were No 1, I always maintained that it's not how you do in India - to be reckoned as a truly great side, you need to be consistent overseas. The boys worked hard and it's a great achievement, but the real test will be the three big series in South Africa, New Zealand and England.
On comments that this was the weakest Australia side to tour India
You wouldn't have said the same thing about India when we got thrashed 4-0 in Australia and England. Then, they played well. This time, we did and we deserved to win.
On controversies erupting when teams are not doing well, 'homework' row for Aussies and reports of differences within India team Down Under.
I don't know why the media creates controversy whenever a team doesn't perform. Why can't people just accept they are not playing well? Cricketers are humans and are bound to fail on any given day… Everything in India is blown out of proportion. And it's not just cricket. I don't know what it's for, the TRPs or something else, but that shouldn't be the case.
Fresh faces in the India team with strong domestic credentials.
It's great. People who are playing first class cricket know their performances will be recognised. It's not like a couple of years ago when people were coming straight from U-19 into the national team.
Any regrets at not playing against Australia and being part of history?
Not at all, I just want to keep improving as a player. Playing for India is my biggest motivation, but not the only one. As a sportsperson, I want to keep performing. I hadn't played for Delhi in a long time, so it felt great to be back. That we won the Vijay Hazare Trophy (national ODI tournament) after 17-18 years made it doubly special… I just want to make runs that help my team win. I don't want to complicate things. I want to keep my cricket and my life simple by scoring runs.
You were at the nets a day after the squad for the first two Tests was picked. Were you working on some specific aspect of your technique?
I keep hearing a lot about technique and stuff, but I maintain that mental strength is more important.
A technically perfect batsman would have an average of 100, which is not the case. Watching the ball closely and having clear thinking is more important. People who talk about technique have never really handled pressure for long periods; otherwise, they would've played for India for a long, long time.
On Kolkata Knight Riders' title defence.
We need to be fearless and start well. Till last year, there was a lot of talk about how KKR is a very popular team but hasn't ever lifted the trophy. Now we have, so it's time to build on that confidence.