Feb 2, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): India batsmen Gautam Gambhir has been hogging all the limelight since he was bought for record amount by Kolkata Knight Riders. The left-handed batsman spoke to Arijeet Mukherjee on India’s chance and the pressure to play in the World Cup.
You will be playing in your first World Cup and that too at home?
It is a great privilege to be a part of the World Cup team, and playing at home makes it special. The two-three years have been great for me and I have worked hard to perform consistently. I was never in contention in the last World Cup in 2007, but since then I have been a part of the core team and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Playing at home will also put India under pressure?
India are always under some pressure in the World Cup, be it away or at home. But this team is well equipped to handle the pressure. Obviously there will be lot of expectations, but we also perform better when we are under pressure. This team has done well both in India and away in the last few years and the boys know how to handle pressure.
What are India’s chances in the World Cup?
I think we are one of the firm favourites. Every World Cup, India enter as firm favourites and we have done well in the two World Cups (1987 and 96) that were held here. So I think home advantage and crowd surely makes us the favourites and not reaching the semi-finals will be a disappointment for the team. But I surely feel India will be the team to beat in this World Cup.
Has the series in South Africa, helped India to prepare better?
It was good to have a tough series in South Africa ahead of the World Cup. It was a gruelling, high intensity series and the way we played both in the Test and the One-day series have made the boys confident. We were down badly after losing the first Test, but came back extremely well to draw the Test series for the first time on South African soil. The ODI series was also close. So in all respect that series has made the boys tough and confident.
What about your fitness?
Missing the ODI series with my hand injury was tough and a painful decision. But I could barely hold my bat in the last Test. So the rest was much needed and I am better now and have been doing light training since my return from South Africa. I am still close to regain my full fitness and I don’t want to rush into things. I have time on my side.
You will be batting at No.3 since Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag will be opening the batting. Will that curb your natural attacking instinct?
For the last one year, I have been opening the innings with Viru, because Sachin bhai was not playing the ODIs. Now batting at No.3 will be different, because I won’t be able to play my free flowing shots. But I played in that position in the past as well and I am used to it.
You are always comfortable batting with Sehwag?
Batting with Viru always make me confident because we have been opening the batting for Delhi for a long time. He is well aware of my batting style and he is one person, whom I can always approach. When we are batting, we are always talking about the game and that takes away the pressure from me.
Can India win the World Cup?
I hope we do. This team is capable of doing it. But again cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. Anything is possible. But I personally want to do it for India. However, we have to remember that it is just a game and life doesn’t end if we cannot win it.
It will also be coach Gary Kirten’s last assignment with the Indian team. How has he helped you?
Gary has played an important role in my success. He was one coach, who never asked me to change my style and allowed me to play freely. In fact we want to win this Cup for Sachin bhai and Gary.