Amarnath confident of India victory at Wankhede (Interview)

April 1st, 2011 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) Mohinder “Jimmy” Amarnath knows what it is to play in a cricket World Cup final and win it too. He is confident that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team can repeat what the team under Kapil Dev, in which he featured, did 28 years ago.

“This India team has experienced all the ups and downs in a span of eight games in this edition and they have done well to peak at the right time. More importantly, they have got the combination right just in time for the knockout rounds,” Amarnath, the Man of the Match in the 1983 final, told IANS from Mumbai.

What makes him think that Dhoni’s team can do it?

“This team has not suddenly come up from nowhere, it has worked its way up the ladder diligently and has performed well in the last couple of years to reach where they are today. Dhoni has done wonders with it.”

Will the fact that the Sri Lankans had played a game on the Wankhede wicket and the Indians haven’t makes any difference?

“I don’t think so. At this time of the year wickets everywhere play the same, low and slow. All pitches will help spinners and our players are used to playing in all conditions at home. Not playing on a particular pitch should not make a difference,” said Amarnath, who has 4,378 runs with 11 hundreds and 24 half centuries, most of which came on bouncy pitches, in 69 Tests at a health average of 42.50 along with 32 wickets.

Amarnath, who scored 26 runs in India’s total of 183 and then bowled magnificently (3-12) in the 1983 final, shared his experience of playing a World Cup final.

“Keep things simple and avoid mistakes. At this level every player realises that one mistake could change the entire complexion of the game, so keep things tight and give your 100 percent on the field.”

Amarnath, an inspiration for many cricketers for the number of comebacks he made with a never-say-die spirit, said there’s no special mantra for playing a World Cup final except staying relaxed before the big game and eagerly looking forward to it.

“You don’t imagine things and worry about what’s going to happen in the match, all you need to do is to be relaxed, play to your strengths, cover you weaknesses and maximize your abilities. Once you are on the field, be focused, cut out everything else from the mind,” was Amarnath’s simple advice to the Indian players. And that’s what he and his teammates did in 1983, he said.

Amarnath is one who has demonstrated that a daring cricketer can fit into any format of the game by proving himself to be as good an all-rounder in the One-dayers as he was in Tests. He has 1,924 runs at an average of 30.5 in ODIs with two 100s and 13 scores of 50 and plus. He also took 46 wickets.

He would not like to single out any particular player to turn the things around, but he made it a point to make special mention on Sachin Tendulkar and Muttiah Muralitharan.

“I wish the entire Indian team all the best, especially Tendulkar who is a wonderful cricketer and human being. In the form he is in, he need not unduly worry about his 100th international hundred. It has to come, said Amarnath.

“Murali is a great bowler and he, too, like Sachin achieved everything a truly top class cricketer can achieve. It will be a good contest between him and the Indian batsmen.”

Mohinder felt there is little the team can complain about anything as their key players have played here for long on official tours or in the IPL and they know everything about the playing conditions here.

Does all the hype and tensions around play on the players’ mind?

“Oh, come on, the hype is only in the media. Most players don’t read newspapers or watch television channels. They prefer to enjoy listening music or indulging in little pranks to amuse themselves so that they don’t worry too much about the match,” said Amarnath, whose international career came to an abrupt end in 1989 after two decades when the selectors, whom he called a “bunch of jokers,” dropped him without notice. After that outburst, no more comebacks for the grittiest of Indian cricketers, who showed exemplary courage in standing up the fiercest fast bowlers of the game had known.

(Veturi Srivatsa can be contacted at v.srivatsa@ians.in)

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