Mental Toughness is what Indian Team Needs
Can any lessons be learnt?

Subodh Grewal

One thing Indian cricket team can learn from any International cricket team is mental toughness. It is hard to count the number of times they have succumbed to pressure rather than the quality of the opposition. The latest example being the second test match in Zimbabwe. It is hard to imagine a team as talented and with the quality of players that present Indian team has get out twice to a mediocre Zimbabwe bowling which was weakened even further by injury to their bowlers. They were virtually reduced to 3 bowlers but still they managed to get India out twice for 200 odd runs.

The only example that one can recollect from history of Indian cricket of a tough mental attitude is one at Calcutta against Australia recently. But it is so unfortunate that the same team can forget that example so soon. Maybe John Wright needs to play tapes of that game before every game India plays or maybe every evening of any test match to motivate them.

The game of Cricket is so much more than just talent. It requires a lot of mental preparation as well. BCCI should hold a camp for that too along with the regular camp that is help before every trip, as Indian team needs preparing themselves mentally more than anything else. They should learn something from teams like Pakistan who won the second test from England from being 1-0 down in a 2 test series and with the test heading towards a draw on the last day. But they still managed to bowl England out in virtually half a day. They and other teams have done such things so often that it is hard to keep a track. But Indian team has a tendency to lose the mental battle even when they are in the driverís seat. If things start going against them just for a brief period they tend to give the game away without any resistance.

But everything does not look gloomy. We have the best batting line up in the world. All that is required is application and an attitude that is not overly dependent on Tendulkar to deliver every time. Even Tendulkar needs to apply himself under difficult situations. The big advantage that he holds over other players like Steve Waugh, Michael Atherton and others is narrowed by his lack of application in tough circumstances.

The same goes with the Indian bowling. With Srinath, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Kumble and Harbhajan Singh in the line up, India has a bowling attack, which can threaten any batting order. The only thing they need is believing in their abilities and being more aggressive.
The away series in South Africa should be an acid test for the current team, which has the potential to give the South African team, which is arguably one of the top two teams in the world, a good match up. But the administrators of Indian board should be focusing more on the biggest weakness which is more of mental nature and getting some professional attitude for curing it rather than giving mindless statements in public. That way they can do much good to Indian cricket.

They owe that to Indian cricket since cricket is more than just a game for Indian fans. They should focus in each series individually based on the opposition and the place where the series will be played rather than just following a customary seven-day camp from preparing for the tour. Some of the senior players should step up and take the initiative to help younger players whenever they need help. I sincerely hope that the present team and BCCI does justice to the potential of present team, which can easily be among the best in the world, which in fact would be justice to the cricket crazy people of India.

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