Men in Blue: The swagger is back, so is the self-belief
The story begins with a thin, lanky guy with long hair and a somewhat odd style of catching the ball who eventually grew up to become a matured, thoughtful and precocious wicket-keeper. Belonging to a quiet, dusty district of Ranchi, this teenage prodigy transformed into a fierce competitor through sheer grit, intelligence and hard work and worked his way through to lead a team that has now taken the world by storm. Undoubtedly, this man is Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the team is Team India.
The man with a magic wand is all set to rock n roll again. The captain of the defending champions has again raised a billion hopes and protagonists of the game would like to believe in the “We won’t give it back” slogan that has literally become an anthem in this country.
India had been in Australia for close to three months by the time the World Cup came around. During that period, they had been winless in seven completed ODIs, four Tests, three games in the triangular series with England as the third peg in the triangle. They had been more than reasonably competitive in the Tests against host Australia even if they lost the series 0-2; in the tri-series, though, India resembled a sleepwalker, doddering along directionless, and their campaign coming to an abrupt halt even before it began.
But now, after entering the quarterfinal of World Cup 2015, Team India has all of a sudden become invulnerable. Though India’s stunning turnaround of fortunes in the World Cup have surprised many, team director Ravi Shastri feels: “Script went on expected lines” as he had full faith in the players’ abilities. “I am not at all surprised. In fact, why should I be surprised that the team has started on a magnificent note? I had complete belief in the boys and their abilities,” Shastri said in the interview. “It was a case of performing to their potential and that’s exactly what has happened in the two matches against Pakistan and South Africa. If you ask me, the script went on expected lines,” the former Indian captain said in an exclusive interview to a news agency. Shree Advani, sport and performance psychologist says: “India has a great chance of winning the World Cup. Though they have not been able to perform well just ahead of the mega event, they have tremendous potential to win it now. They have won all the four matches and look very confident to carry on their good form.
They have a psychological advantage as they have been there for several months now and have got an opportunity to acclimatise.”
Studies conducted by Dr Rob Duffield at the Charles Sturt University, and Dr Marc Portus, the Sports Science Manager of Cricket Australia, have found that you do not need to be as physically fit to play cricket as you do other sports like football. However, you do need to be psychologically strong and have a level of endurance and recovery. “Physical conditioning and muscle training is not going to necessarily improve your performance in cricket,” Dr Duffield said in a report. “Having a high oxygen consumption or a faster twenty metre sprint time doesn’t mean you are going to be able to bowl better, or get more wickets, or score a century. The key to being a good cricketer is the ability to tackle the psychological aspects of the game by the use of mental conditioning.”
According to folklore, cricket is 90 per cent a mental game. And this is backed by research in sports psychology that suggests psychological strength is equally or more important than physical prowess. And with a man like Dhoni at the helm of affairs, who became India’s most successful captain in ODIs played away from home following the hard-earned four-wicket win against the West Indies last week, the dream doesn’t seem to be a distant one anymore.
So, with a billion people cheering for the Men In Blue, it’s time to forget the past and look forward to the future. With renewed hope and vigour, it’s time to deliver because at this juncture, it’s simply now or never!