Former selector says Gahunje Stadium is likely to see another dominating show by India
Whether it’s Tiger Woods or Roger Federer, Tom Brady or Serena Williams, sporting legends have often cocked a snook at their doomsayers and kept pushing the boundaries of excellence well past the shelf date that might normally apply to lesser mortals.
In the lead up to the World Cup, the general opinion was how cricket‘s flagship event could be a swansong for some of the Indian stalwarts. If the early indications are anything to go by though, however, fans and critics alike might be left with ‘yeh dil mange more‘ feeling by the time the carnival comes to an end.

Will Virat Kohli fire on all cylinders in 2023 World Cup?

It was not long back that Virat Kohli had had his technique dissected and motivation questioned. But India’s fittest and perhaps most ambitious batsman produced his reply in the best manner possible with his innings of 85 against Australia in the team’s opening game.
He followed it up with another half-century against Afghanistan, and although he failed to convert a good start against Pakistan, the former India captain has shown he is back at his vintage best.
“For them it is motivation of a different kind. These guys have the ability to sort of chase extraordinary things not achieved by others, not just because they want to achieve what others have not achieved,” observed Surendra Bhave, a former national selector who was part of the panel during the 2011 World Cup, on what sets the legends apart from the rest.
“If you take Roger Federer, every match he brought a different flair. The challenge to these guys is to take their game to a sublime level. The more they do it, they get better at it. So the motivation for players like Sachin or Rohit or Virat would be to refine their batting. And they love doing it for the country.”
Some of Kohli’s trademark shots on the off-side are played away from his body. They have proved to be his undoing in the recent past, but have fetched him big dividends at the World Cup.
Bhave said the focus should be on the batsman’s mental aptitude rather than technique. “We have to realise that this is white ball cricket. There is also the pitch condition. The Indian batsmen have shown they have the ability to hit the ball pretty hard, even when it swings either away or in,” he said.
“They have the power and the talent to place the ball, but instead of getting into technique, we have to talk about the mindset.
“Virat is in great form. You want your chase machine in that kind of form in the World Cup. He has achieved so much at such a level and at such a pace.

“He knows very well more than anyone how to control that aggression. For a layman it might look like he is playing one shot too many. I am pretty sure that a century is around the corner.”
Bhave had been a part of the stadium committee of the Maharashtra Cricket Association when it planned and built the Gahunje facility here in Pune, which will play host to India’s next fixture against Bangladesh on Thursday.
In-charge of the pitch preparation on many occasions, he is familiar with the behaviour of the track, but refrained from making a prediction.
“I believe the stage is set for a wonderful match, another dominating match by India. No team in an all-play-all format can take any opponent lightly and I think the team will go in with complete concentration,” he said.
“Actually, I haven’t been on the field. Gahunje is known for its grass cover. There is a cross wind going through the stadium, so it does produce movement off the seam. I am sure the pitch will be worthy of a World Cup match.”

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