Self-belief key for Kiwis to redeem themselves
Losing is never fun and every cricketer reacts and copes in his way. Some like to let go and move on. Others reflect alone. For me, as a player or coach, defeat leaves a cold, empty feeling, which sometime takes a while to come to terms with.
I vividly remember the loss against Pakistan in the 2005 Test in Bangalore, which allowed them to draw the series. It took us about three days to get over that one. We didn't go out and as someone remarked, it looked like someone close had passed away!
It's best not to read the papers or watch TV. And if you are touring, stay away from Internet and don't let your curiosity – to see if you are being roasted at home – get the better of you. You almost certainly will be! Whatever your reaction to failure, your ability to believe in yourself is tantamount.
Like life, pro sport always has its ups and downs but the belief that whatever happens you will get there is critical.
If you don't believe in yourself, who will? I hope each individual in the Kiwi team is thinking along these lines. Any improvement between their two Tests versus India has to start with the mind. Yes, Ashwin and Ojha were formidable, but unless you are thinking positively about how you are going to counter them, mentally and technically, you are starting on the back foot.
The questions that should arise when faced by tough bowling are simple — what are my best scoring boundary options? Where do I get a one? What balls do I need to defend? Above all, you have to reach a stage where mentally, as well as with your stroke-play, you can dominate them.
Can this be achieved by New Zealand in time for Bangalore? I hope so because the Kiwi batting line-up is far more capable than what it showed in Hyderabad.
For India, the first Test ticked all the boxes. Pujara came through as an absolute natural replacement for Rahul. Maybe, they even look alike. Virat slots straight in for Laxman, with some smart close in catching too. MS steadied the ship with savvy captaincy. It was not only the bowling of Ashwin, his batsmanship too was vital.
It is staggering to think that Ojha and Ashwin have taken 60 wickets together in only four Tests. Equate that in batting terms? In my mind, it is like two rookie openers reeling off four double hundred partnerships in their first four Tests. It's an amazing statistic.
To cap it, India had Viru actually diving at first slip. It was, however, something far away from the Test that also caught my eye! An interview with Harbhajan in the latest editon of Alison's Tea Break on Cricinfo. The gist of this chat I imagine over a cup or two of chai was Bhajji expressing his desperation to make it back to the India Test team.
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