ICC World Twenty20 May 8, 2009

Fatigue India's biggest challenge at World Twenty20 - Kirsten


Gary Kirsten, the India coach, says mental fatigue will be his team's biggest challenge during the World Twenty20 in England next month. The event starts on June 5 but India play their first warm-up game on June 1, just seven days after the IPL ends in South Africa. Kirsten also believes India, the defending champions, will be under added pressure during the ICC tournament but says the team has shown it is capable of handling such situations.

"The Indian players have been on the road for a long time and the biggest challenge will be mental fatigue," Kirsten told Cricinfo. "But they have enormous pride when representing India and have become a tight unit over the past few months. I'm sure they will look forward to reuniting and playing for their country."

The Indian players have been almost living out of their suitcases since they left Mumbai for the New Zealand tour on February 20. They got a few days off after the series ended on April 7 before leaving for the IPL, which began on April 18. They return home for a few days again when the IPL ends on May 24 - the entire 15-member World Twenty20 squad is playing in the league - before leaving for England to play their first day/night warm-up game against New Zealand at Lord's. India take on Bangladesh in their first game of the tournament on June 6 in Trent Bridge.

But Kirsten, who took over as India coach in 2008, said he was confident the team would be able to handle the pressure when defending the title they won in 2007. "When you are defending champions there will always be added pressure," Kirsten said. "That goes with the territory of high-performing teams. This team has played in many pressure situations since the Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 and has shown what they are capable of."

How different would the conditions be in England for the World Twenty20? It's something all international teams, he said, have to come to terms with. "Every country has its own unique conditions which each team and individual needs to comes to terms with," he said. "The players are aware of those conditions and what is required to give themselves the best chance of performing. Most of the Indian players have played in England and know what to expect."

India have sported a stable look over the five Twenty20 internationals they have played since the 2007 world title victory - winning two and losing three. In fact, there have been only two changes in the team from the 16-member squad for the last two games they played in New Zealand, and the 15-member World Twenty20 squad that was announced on Monday.

There is an argument that such stability could also lead to complacency among players in the team but Kirsten was quick to dismiss such suggestions. "Experienced players understand the demands and pressures of World Cup tournaments," he said. "Throw in a few talented and fearless young players and you have a great mix in the team. There is certainly no danger of complacency within the Indian team. We pride ourselves in taking each game as it comes and giving 100% on a daily basis while representing Team India."

Giving a hint of the team's gameplan for the world event, Kirsten said he believes spin will play a major role in Twenty20 cricket. India have only two fulltime spinners - Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha - in their World Twenty20 squad but have a rich variety of part-time options to choose from: Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Virender Sehwag, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma.

Moving on to the ongoing IPL, Kirsten, who is based in Cape Town, said the tournament has benefited young Indian cricketers immensely. He put forward the growth of Yusuf Pathan's game at the last IPL, as an example. "The IPL provides a great opportunity for young Indian cricketers to show what they are capable of in a high-profile environment," he said. "They also get to mix with, and learn from, successful international cricketers. This can only be of benefit to Indian cricket. Performances during the IPL can definitely be a stepping stone to achieving higher honours. Yusuf Pathan was one example of that last year."

What is evident from the league, he said, was that the best team on paper is not necessarily the most successful one. "There will always be new ideas and new thinking in every IPL," he said. "What is of interest to me are those teams that are able to win consistently and why they are able to do it. It isn't always the best team on paper."

Asked about Buchanan's captaincy theory for the Kolkata Knight Riders, the IPL team that he coaches, Kirsten said: "In the dynamic world we live in, innovative thinking is important to try and stay ahead and push the boundaries of performance. I think it is important to balance out what is already working and what can improve performance. MS Dhoni has proved a highly effective and capable leader for India and I'm sure that will not change for some time to come."

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hetal on May 15, 2009, 23:54 GMT

    Semi finalists:

    Australia South Africa India England

  • Murtaza on May 12, 2009, 9:17 GMT

    Let us keep our fingers crossed cuz its such a funny game that you can't predict anything till the last ball is bowled. I am making up my mind to have some upsets this time.

  • Rajesh on May 9, 2009, 12:55 GMT

    Kirsten's fear of Mental Fatigue is not unfounded. Our Cricketers are being milked by BCCI like there is no tomorrow. Anyone who has closed watched T20 would understand how ferociously paced game it is and given the not so great athleticism of our cricketers, some of them in the 15 are likely to face a kind of breakdown. T20 is not an IPL where we can afford to lose lot of matches and still make it to the semis. One bad performance on a given day is all that is required to get the boot. Its not for nothing that couple of Aussies were advised against IPL participation by their medical staff.

  • Vamshi on May 9, 2009, 12:33 GMT

    Gary is correct the Fatigue is going to play a big role and we can not predict How Pakistan or Bangladesh are going to paly this time, no one has seen some cricket from them and what is going on there, and coming to Buchanan decision to have 4 captains , one of the ridiculous idea that made KKR the best to the worst and some dirty politics to make Dada alone in the team. I am sure we will certainly give High Performance this time to defend our title but the only botherering is the compalcency. Yousf pathan would be great asset as he face almost all the famous fast bowlers and spinners these days.the decision from selectors to Opt out Dinesh Karthhi is good for us as his inclusion doesn't serve any purpose.

    Go Tigers , show them we are tigers on Field too.

  • Ghazanfar on May 9, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    Well in my opinion, Twenty20 is a pleasant change in the course of the game, because in this fast paced generation, its becoming more and more difficult to keep up with long 5-6 hour matches... My semi-finalists would be Pakistan, India, South Africa and either Sri Lanka or New Zealand... Well either way, I am hoping for an Indo-Pak final and Pakistan winning it this time...

  • Aziz on May 9, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    Its a mental fatigue for the all teams excet pakistan and bangladesh. You will see the performences of the both teams. I reckon the semifinalist would be pakistan, bangladesh, australia and england. As they are less fatiguued teams.

  • Ahmad on May 9, 2009, 7:38 GMT

    IPL is a killer for cricket. its more like a circus then real cricket. The history of cricket is based upon competition between natiopns not like clubs. it s not football. Its also taken power from ICC and shifted to BCCI which is a kiler for cricket. If ICC wants money it can arrange T20 world cup every year

  • arpit on May 9, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    i think if abhishek nayar was in the squad india would have a very good chance of making it to the semis

  • rakesh on May 9, 2009, 5:01 GMT

    India is the defending T20 champions and they have a good chance to defend it this time around as India is the best t20 team now and most of the players are in top form and so India just has to play the normal game under the leadership of the brave-hearted MSD...Cheers India...try hard to defend your chmpion spot..best wishes... Jai HO

  • Ashok on May 8, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    Indian players have gained a valuable experience in the IPL-2 20/20 during the last 5 weeks. They will field a team which has the capability of knocking the sox off any team. I expect S.Africa and Sri Lanka will pose the biggest challenge apart from unknown talent of Pakistan. India led by dynamic Dhoni will do well. The batting led by Sehwag, Gambhir, Raina, Pathens, Sharma, Yuvraj and Dhoni is the strongest. Bowling led by Zahir, Harbhajan, NP Singh, Ishant and Ojha is equally formidable. The prospect of playing for the world cup should be adequate incentive to combat the mental fatigue. It remains to be seen on a day to day to basis how the team fares under the British conditions. Weather might be a major factor which may impact the teams if they happen to be unlucky to face rain and cope with D/L rules. Dhoni is a good tactician with his knowledge of D/L rules. If India play to their potential and if weather does not play a role, they should be strong favourites - Good Luck India!.

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