Gautam Gambhir has said being captain for India's ODI series against New Zealand has not given him any extra motivation to perform with the bat. "As a player or a captain I have always given 100%. Captaincy has not changed my batting," he said. "I am striking the ball well and would have batted like this under any captain."
Gambhir scored his second successive unbeaten century, in the third ODI in Vadodara on Saturday, to give India an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
In Saturday's match, India's bowlers restricted New Zealand to 224 in their 50 overs after putting them in to bat. Gambhir admitted it was an advantage bowling first on the Vadodara wicket but praised his bowlers for setting up the win. "When there is dew in Baroda it does a bit in the morning; it's red soil. It was a good toss to win but it was a great effort from our bowlers to restrict them to 225-odd.
"[Zaheer Khan] is the best left-arm fast bowler in the world now. [R] Ashwin has a lot of variety and can bowl well during Powerplays and the slog overs. If he keeps doing that he will be a big asset to the team. Munaf [Patel] bowled great at first-change. It's tough to get figures of 1 for 28 in 10 overs on a subcontinent wicket. Yusuf [Pathan] contributed with the ball, as well."
Gambhir kept a slip in almost throughout the New Zealand innings and said the aggressive tactics were prompted by New Zealand's depth in batting. "There was still a bit of dampness out there and we wanted to take wickets as New Zealand bat deep down with Kyle Mills coming in at No.10."
With Ravindra Jadeja in the side for the third ODI, Yuvraj Singh was not called upon to bowl any overs, despite having taken three wickets in the first game in Guwahati. It is still uncertain whether India will play seven batsmen or an allrounder in the 2011 World Cup, and Yuvraj's bowling could be a deciding factor in the balance of the team. Gambhir said Yuvraj was still an important part of the ODI setup. "Yuvi is an experienced player and an integral part of the side. He has been a great help to me as captain."
With several senior players rested, the series against New Zealand is an opportunity for the India selectors to look at some of the fringe players ahead of the World Cup, and Gambhir welcomed the competition. "It's good to have competitions for various places. If the selectors have a headache in this aspect, it's a very good sign for Indian cricket," he said. He, however, hinted India may not experiment too much with the side for the last two ODIs despite the series being won. "We should try and put our best team on the park as it is an international game and we are playing a quality side."