India enjoying its victory run in the ongoing ODI World Cup

Mohammed Siraj

In the ongoing ODI World Cup, hosts India have finally gotten the much-needed break they deserved in between games.

After defeating New Zealand convincingly in Dharamsala, the players decided to enjoy their break in the scenic city.

Meanwhile, their next challenge is England at Lucknow on the 29th of October which is three days away.

While it is a pretty hectic schedule for all the teams and support staff, India is certainly enjoying their short vacation.

Furthermore, Kuldeep Yadav and the coaching staff took a trek to Triund and Virat Kohli paid a visit to Chinmaya Tapovan Ashram to relax and reset.

After their vacation, the team flew to Lucknow yesterday afternoon and looked ready to play their next game.

But, taking a break from games doesn’t mean that the players forget about the tournament. They are always focused on how to better their game.

Says Shami on India’s day off,

The outside world thinks cricketers get separated when they rest for eight days. That’s not true. Cricketers always want to be bettter and better. There’s no off. There’s never an off.

India players enjoy grouping with each other and support staff

Meanwhile, after winning five games in a row, India sits pretty at the top of the points table and their path to the semifinal is all but clear.

Moreover, the team has been enjoying a convivial environment since their opening game against Australia in Chennai.

Furthermore, Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj enjoyed each other’s banter when they gave a post-match presser after the game against Pakistan in Ahmedabad.

On the other hand, Suryakumar Yadav and batting coach, Vikram Rathour kept up an interesting discussion while SKY underwent a challenge during his net session.

Additionally, awarding the Best Fielder medal is also oozing out more positivity and competitiveness among the players.

Says Siraj on India’s bonding among players,

Everyone is enjoying each other’s success. It’s like we are brothers…the performance can be up or down, but we are taking each other along. If somebody’s day hasn’t gone well, we are giving confidence. That’s the good thing about the dressing room. That is why we are getting continued success. When we are at the hotel, we have lunch together. We sit at the pool, do our recovery, listen to songs, enjoy, and have fun with each other. That is the bonding we have. Outside the ground, what’s happening is also very imporant. Because the World Cup comes after four years. This is not a bilateral series…So, everyone wants to win the World Cup and having this environment is very important.

Psychologists also give their opinions on how a team must manage themselves mentally

While enjoying a good streak of success is definitely a very positive omen for a team, it does bring its own challenges.

A team winning games on the trot must be able to handle the fans’ pressure, deliver in each game, and make sure you don’t disappoint them at any stage.

Says Gayatri Madkekar, sports psychologist to players such as Sharath Kamal and Lakshya Sen,

It’s perhaps easier to smile when you are winning, but it also means a different kind of pressure.

Adding further, she says,

You’ve hit a winning streak early on, now there are more expectations. There are already people speaking about the knockouts and who India are going to play in the semis. Dealing with those kinds of conversations is not easy. In sport, you have to have the right amount of aggression to be able to peak. When you’re winning and you get into this maintenance zone, then sometimes you are not able to build that aggression for yourself. That’s a tricky phase to be in. On the flipside, when you’re losing, yes, you’re not all smiles but you still have to believe that you can win the next game because it’s a fresh game. So, the hunger is maybe slightly more in those situations. But when you are winning, the nature of pressure changes.

Madkekar is also of the opinion that just like physical recovery, mental recovery is also very important.

Let’s say you scored a century or took a five-wicket haul. When you’re playing another game, there are a lot of expectations to repeat that kind of performance. Mental recovery is a place where you reset yourself to a neutral space. When you’ve scored a hundred, you don’t start counting your runs from 101 the next time, right? Mental recovery also means you start from ground zero before any game.

However, players oftentimes talk about capitalizing on momentum. According to Janki Deole, the positive emotions of the previous games must be carried into the next but players must also understand that outcomes are not under their control.

Generally, in a team sport, momentum plays a big role. When you are winning, that momentum helps you move from one game to another. But before every game, expectations need to be reevaluated and reset. That’s something teams and players typically do to take each match as new. When a team has won 2-3 matches in a row, the key is to take confidence from it. But also understand that a new match needs to be handled in a fresh manner.

Meanwhile, it is also important that players on the periphery be taken care of as well. If they start sulking, it can impact team performance very much.

The example of Shami getting a fifer in Dharamsala is the answer to just that after he sat out for four games in a row.

Says Shami on his time out from the squad,

When you are not playing, it is very difficult. But if your team is performing, your boys are moving in a rhythm, then I don’t think you should feel guilty sitting out; because you are also a part of the team and a part of the World Cup. Everyone should enjoy each other’s success. My outlook is to keep enjoying. Because in India the biggest sport is cricket. The biggest place is where you are sitting. It’s not necessary to be there (in playing XI). You have 15 players, four have to stay out. So, by being positive, I feel you will get more results.

Let’s hope India carries forward this positive momentum till the final of the tournament.

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