What has also made this tour incredibly hard for the players are the Covid-19 restrictions and bio-bubble environments they have to abide by. A large majority of them have been away from home for almost five months now, beginning with the IPL in UAE.
The mounting list of cricketers on the casualty list with various injuries has only compounded India’s woes. But they have found a way to brave through those challenges and are still in with a chance of winning the series as the deciding fourth Test looms.
Former India player Sujith Somasundar, a certified mental toughness and life performance coach, credits the coaching staff for this mental toughness in the team. “I think a lot of credit goes to people who are around the Indian team. They receive a lot of brickbats. But let’s give them credit where it is due,” he said.
“Sometimes breakdowns happen. It happened to us in Adelaide (2nd innings where India were all out for 36). But how you deal with it is important. I think our support staff dealt with it really well. If you make winning and losing highly significant, then you are making players emotionally attached to the results. But rather, the focus should be on improving the players’ work ethic. I think that’s where head coach Ravi Shastri and his team have done a commendable job,” said Somasundar, the head of education at the Indian cricket board’s National Cricket Academy (NCA).
The former Karnataka cricketer thinks that the new players who have stepped in have not looked out of their depth because of the work that has gone behind the scenes. “I think they (coaching staff) have handled each player differently. They have treated each one of them according to their potential. They have made them aware of what is possible and tried to make them realise it,” he added.
Virat Kohli too had spoken highly about the character of the team before he took paternity leave. “We are a team that will show belief and not necessarily give up. That is one hallmark of this team,” Kohli had said.
This ‘hallmark’ is what stand-in-skipper Ajinkya Rahane will bank on in Brisbane. “Physically we may be disadvantaged. However, mentally they will have a lot of gumption after Sydney, which was kind of a moral victory,” said Somasundar.
If India can defy the odds in Brisbane too, their mental toughness will become the stuff of legend.