By S S Ramaswamy
Mumbai: Nov 24, 2011
The entire country might be waiting for Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international ton when he resumes his innings on Friday but the Indian opener Gautam Gambhir on Thursday said that the team is fully focused on the end result.
Tendulkar inched closer to his 100th international century with an unbeaten 67 as India gave a strong reply to the huge West Indian total of 590 on day three of the third and final Test on Thursday.
"The team members are not thinking much about Sachin's 100th hundred, but what the team requires at this moment. The West Indies have set a very big target and it is important to save the follow on and in that course if Sachin gets his 100th ton it's good," said Gambhir.
"The bigger goal is to think about the team and what we want to achieve out of this Test match, which is more important than Sachin's 100th century," he added.
At stumps, India were 281 for three in 80 overs -- 110 runs short of saving the follow-on and were 309 runs adrift of the tourists' massive tally on a wicket that was playing true but showing some signs of wear and tear.
Gambhir felt that the Indians, with spinners Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin in their ranks, can press for a win if they can get 500-550 tomorrow.
"We are still 109 runs (actually 110) short of saving the follow on. We all know things change quickly in India. We still feel there is a chance of winning. We have two quality spinners and once it starts spinning, it would be very difficult for the opposition to handle the spin and bounce.
"If we can get 500 or 550 on this wicket, we can try and produce a result from this Test," he insisted.
The Delhi lad, who seemed to have missed edging the ball when he went for an overhead pull off Ravi Rampaul but was given out, said the controversial Decision Review System might have saved him today but can hamper his progress on some other occasion.
"It's the BCCI and captain's (MS Dhoni) decision. There are times they go in your favour and there are times when they don't go in your favour. It goes both ways," said Gambhir.
"I always believe there are times everything evens out. I would have said today I missed DRS but there would be occasions in future when I would thank that there is no DRS.
Important thing is everything evens out," he further remarked.
Heaping praise on Rahul Dravid for crossing the 13,000-run mark in Tests, only second in the world to do so after Tendulkar, Gambhir said, "He's a genius. He's a legend and his records speak for himself and the way he has taken the pressure batting at No 3, which is the most important position. He has got runs everywhere.
"Hopefully, he can continue the same form and get lot of runs in Australia (during India's upcoming tour next month).
It would be crucial for us."
Speaking about his own form, which has seen a dip after a phenomenal run a couple of years ago, Gambhir said he has not been able to convert his good starts into big scores.
"It's always difficult to maintain same flow and stay in same kind of form for a long time in international cricket.
The important thing is how you are hitting the ball. I have been hitting the ball well. Even in the ODIs against England and in this series I have not been able to convert those 50s into 100s, which is there in my mind.
"I have been getting 50s and giving good starts, which is important for the team," he said.
He said fielding for two full days and then coming out to face the new ball in Test cricket is a challenge.
"This is opening the batting is all about. That's why opening the batting in a Test cricket is the most difficult and challenging. You have been fielding for two days and after ten minutes you play the new ball at 150 kmph.
"You need to be mentally ready at all the time. Even on the first day, the openers are under lot of pressure," he explained.
Gambhir said there was no need for him to caution his opening partner Virender Sehwag, who got bowled while stretching forward to drive West Indies captain Darren Sammy.
"That is the way he has always played, he has always attacked from the word go and that's what makes him such an exciting player and a game changer. We want all kinds of players and Sehwag is an extraordinary player. He has batted like that in all the formats. I don't need to caution him."
Taking a dig at Ashwin, who criticised the Wankhede track yesterday, Gambhir said the Tamil Nadu off-spinner would face even flatter pitches than this in future.
"(There's) nothing to be heart-broken about. Bowlers need to bowl on all kinds of wickets. They need to learn to bowl on all kinds of tracks. There will be many occasions when he has to bowl on even more flatter wickets than this.
"It's a great challenge. That's what is cricket all about. You don't get five wickets or 100s easily in Tests. You need to work hard for it. He has taken two five-wicket hauls in three Tests and has a great future ahead."
Gambhir rated the West Indies team, who are down 0-2 in the three-Test series, as formidable opponents.
"They played some good cricket on this tour. They really played well in the second Test and here. They have quality players in the line up and can upset anyone. They have got someone like Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul bowling at 140 plus. They have quality batsmen. I don't think they are an ordinary side and shown that on this tour," he pointed out.
On media reports that the BCCI was considering sending a few players in advance to Australia even when the ODI series against the West Indies would be on, Gambhir said, "I don't know what the scene is. The better you are prepared the better you do on tours. It was seen in South Africa (Dec-Jan 2010-11). Some of the guys went early and prepared well and we had a great Test series in South Africa.
"It's always good if players can go early and get acclimatised to the wickets and conditions. It's a big tour for us. We have always done well in Australia. Hopefully, we can win the series there. If the Board decides some players need to go early it will be good for us." (PTI)