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Nothing tops performance when the chips are down

india Updated: Dec 12, 2012 23:45 IST
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The importance of the Nagpur Test is huge and I don't think in the recent past India have faced such an important game. I'm saying this even after taking into consideration the World Cup final in Mumbai. The reason for this is because India's reputation wouldn't have been hampered had they not won the World Cup final. It's a different scenario here.

I can't remember an India team under so much pressure in a home series. But they need to take it in their stride, absorb the pressure and come out firing. This is sports, there is no guaranteed success, such situations will arise and the biggest pleasure is to stand up and deliver.

There has been criticism, which is common in sports, but the team must remember that most of the critics want this team to do well because a healthy Indian cricket benefits all. To me, it's possible if they get mentally bull-headed.

There is no reason why things can't change, as this side has enormous ability. Although selection is not in his hands, Dhoni's statement that as a captain it's his job to be next to the team is a strong message to the world. He has the talent and needs to convert that into performance.

Sachin Tendulkar shouldn't worry about retirement calls because no one can decide when he should go. He has achieved so much, more than anyone can imagine, and retirement should be his decision. He needs to stay positive and play attacking cricket, because even if he doesn't score another run in international cricket he will still remain the greatest.

The squad has gone through changes and I will be keen to see whether Jadeja gets to play his first Test. He has been in good form in domestic cricket and will fit into the third spinner's role if the wicket starts to turn. He will be a good option at No 6 and will also bring some fire on the field.

I am keen to see the young fast bowlers make their debut. Dinda will get the first go because he has been in the squad before and although I feel Zaheer should have continued in Nagpur, these are huge opportunities for the young generation. I expect the pitch to assist spin but it will be a good batting surface at the start with some bounce.

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The writer is a former India captain