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We have to get our hunger back

We have 12 days to rest and introspect before leaving for South Africa. Once we?re there, the warm-up games in Durban will be crucial.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2003 02:01 IST

The Tour to New Zealand was one of the worst we have played in for a long, long time. The team had been on a roll before that and with the World Cup approaching, hopes were high. I hope that the results there have given all of us something to introspect and to evaluate our game.

We would be committing a huge mistake if we just think of it as a bad tour and forget about what happened. At the moment, we will have to sit and analyse what went wrong and try and rectify matters so that we can get ahead with our cricket.

The World Cup is not very far away. It is a huge event and one that will draw the attention of every cricket-playing nation in the world. We have just 12 days at home before leaving for South Africa and it is important for all of us to have a bit of rest, keeping in mind the amount of cricket we have played over the last 15 months.

We have to get our hunger back. The key to our success there will be determination and how desperate we are to win. We have been to the country before and our boys have been successful there, so I firmly believe that all of them are good enough to do well.

The team has received a lot of flak because of our performance against the Kiwis and all I can say is that it is rightly deserved and expected. We are, after all, in a country where cricket is a religion and emotions do run high.

At the same time, we are all professional sportsmen and times like these are both expected and part of a sportsman's career, so it is very important that we take it in our stride and get on with the game.

The ball did move around quite a bit in New Zealand but it was not so unplayable that we got out for 120 every time.

The conditions were not conducive for 250, something that we have come to expect in one-day cricket, but yes, 180 was possible. I have also never seen a series where the toss was so crucial and the team that batted second won every single time but our application was not enough and that is what resulted in our failure.

I am great believer in the present. The past and the future have no meaning. The key to our success in the Cup will be how quickly our batsmen regain form. All of us, with the exception of Sehwag, have struggled in the one-dayers and we will quickly have to find form in the warm-up games we play in Durban before the main event starts.

There has been a lot of rubbish written about the inability of our batting overseas. Most of it, I felt, was incorrect and a bit too harsh. The averages that Rahul, Sachin and I enjoy overseas, is enough indication of that but given that, it is vital that all three of us fire collectively in South Africa.

We tend to forget sometimes that Sachin is human and can fail too at times. It is important that we don't put too much pressure on him and he is allowed to play freely. I still believe he should bat at No. 4 — he scored two hundreds in England and seemed to have adapted well to the position. He is a champion and I know he will deliver.

Coming to the bowling, our spinners did not have much of a role in New Zealand but will be an important cog in the wheel in South Africa.

They bowled well in pairs and bowled well in South Africa last time around. The wickets there will give them some bounce, especially at the Centurion, where India have a good one-day record.

We are in a tough group in the Cup. The competition will be very stiff and we will have to play very well. The season there begins in October, so February-March will be sometime around the end of their season. The wickets would have settled and will be well prepared.

One interesting point that should be noted is that South Africa have picked two spinners in their squad — Nicky Boje and Robin Peterson.

This suggests that they expect some of the tracks to grip a bit — something that normally happens at the end of the season in any country as the wickets go through a lot of wear and tear.

First Published: Jan 18, 2003 23:47 IST