Dubai: India’s clean sweep over New Zealand in the T20 series is creditable. The way India dominated the Kiwis, especially in view of the past when India has always found the conditions difficult to adapt, shows that they have conquered the fear of playing in unfamiliar conditions.
Many may wonder how this happened and what made them play such brilliant cricket. Though a 5-0 scoreline may seem like a one-sided series, in reality all matches were keenly fought. For a team to win away from home, it requires the confidence to do it. Today, Team India is bubbling with that confidence mainly due to the team management’s approach.
During a recent interview with Gulf News, India’s coach Ravi Shastri had revealed that if players play without fear and enjoy the game, they can beat any team. In the past, the Indian team would start off any tour with skepticism, especially the fear of the conditions abroad. Conditions in New Zealand, England, Australia and South Africa were all considered tough and most pre-tour queries from the media were whether the team would adjust to the cold weather, movement, bounce etc. To win abroad, a team needs not only two or three batsmen but also bowlers who can take wickets in those conditions.
Today’s scribes would refrain from asking batsmen like Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma on whether they would be able to adapt because, currently, they are two of the finest batsmen across all formats. In the past, India had batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman who too could bat under any condition; but the rest of the team often failed to rise to the challenge. From the present lot, players like K.L. Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey have also shown they can adapt to foreign conditions and play match-winning roles.
Earlier, India’s bowlers, especially pacers, found it hard to match bowlers from other countries in foreign conditions. But today, Jaspirt Bumrah and Mohammad Shami are among the finest bowlers who can strike in any condition.
So all that the Indian team needed was confidence and a positive approach. And that they seem to have in plenty; if not they could not have beaten Australia in a series after losing the first match by 10 wickets. The encouraging character of this team is its ability to excel under pressure; the skill to handle pressure has been imbibed in every player.
The pressure on India to win is always high, but Shastri has made it clear that a team cannot win all matches. Whether India dominates the oncoming One-day series too or not, this clean sweep will go a long way and can act as a catalyst for many more victories abroad.