Virat Kohli’s India head into the Ranchi Test versus Australia with plenty to play for after securing a 75-run win in Bangalore.(AP)
Virat Kohli’s India head into the Ranchi Test versus Australia with plenty to play for after securing a 75-run win in Bangalore.(AP)

Virat Kohli’s team must guard against demoralising effect ahead of Ranchi Test

Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team need to learn from past encounters against Australia to guard against feeling of being let down after BCCI-CA compromise saw Steve Smith escape without any sanction.
Hindustan Times | By Sanjjeev K Samyal
UPDATED ON MAR 13, 2017 08:23 PM IST

The BCCI’s U-turn on the DRS issue on the same day they had filed a complaint against Australia captain Steve Smith, did take people by surprise. But the two cricket boards reaching an understanding among themselves is nothing new.

The best example is of Cricket Australia going soft in the Sydneygate controversy against the Indian players. Some are looking at ‘DRSgate’ as Indian cricket board’s way of returning a favour.

However, most importantly, it remains to be seen how India captain Virat Kohli and his team react to the situation.

If there’s a feeling that their parent body has not backed them up, then it could have a demoralising effect.

Without going into the merits or demerits of Indian cricket board’s decision, heading into Ranchi, handling the fallout of the controversy is one of the challenges for the Indian think-tank.

Read | Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma spice up India’s pace tale against Australia

There is a fear the home team might lose steam in the high-intensity battle, unless steps are taken to get their thought-process right.

In a way, it is like things have turned full circle in the India-Australia rivalry. Around nine year ago, the roles were reversed when in the 2007-08 series, Australia players claimed they were left feeling their Board had reached an understanding with the Indian cricket board on ‘Sydneygate’ and let off Harbhajan Singh leniently.

It reflected in their performance in the subsequent Test at Perth.

The WACA in Perth was known to be Australia’s bastion, but the intensity in their play was missing and a determined India gave them a huge win as they became the first Asian team to win in a Test in Perth. The 72-run was India’s most famous win Down Under.

Maharashtra-based sports psychologist Dr BP Bam says the third Test is a game where Kohli & Co’s mettle as champion players will be tested.

“A champion is the one who is able to put behind all external factors. It is always about focusing on the next ball, what happened on the previous ball doesn’t matter. That is the difference between just being a good player and a champion,” observed Bam, a retired IGP with Maharashtra State Police, who has also worked with cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, apart from mentoring many top shooters and archers.

“If you don’t learn to control your mind, you will lose. If you allow these feelings to dominate, you are not a champion.”

But, there’s no doubt Kohli’s boys will need some counselling to clear up their thought process and channel their energy and avoid crashing like the Australian team nine years ago.

Bam says Kumble’s role will be crucial as luckily for India, their coach is best equipped to handle the situation, having been there and done that.

He was the man leading India’s defense as captain of the team in 2007-08 series, bringing out the best in his men in the most challenging situation.

“That’s why Kumble is there, otherwise what is the point of having a coach of his stature?”

In the opposite corner, Australia have fewer worries. Given the clear-cut video evidence of Steve Smith’s DRS mistake, the visitors should be feeling relieved to have escaped the hearing process. Smith, the Australian captain, should consider himself lucky for not coping punishment.

Having already recorded a win, they only need to win one of the remaining two games to seal the series. “You have to be ready for all this (type of situations). One has to understand, these things are not important, cricket is important.”

As Bam reminded the players: “In a few years, we had Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds playing together in the IPL.”

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