A brave India starts on road to home World Cup 2023 in bid to end title drought

An ICC title has eluded India’s men’s senior team for nearly a decade.

Despite coming close to breaking the jinx a few times, the star-studded team has repeatedly fumbled, raising questions over its ability.

However, with another edition of the ODI World Cup beckoning – at home in October-November – India hopes to end the trophy drought. Hardik Pandya, one of the key members of the team and the stand-in skipper for the first ODI against Australia, believes that the team will try to be a ‘little brave’, leading up to the tournament.

“I don’t think we have tried anything new. We will be trying to be a little brave which I think in the last couple of series we have done quite well. All these bilaterals are as challenging, they can get as close to the wire as they can. That is the only way we are going to learn and start playing under pressure of knockouts,” Pandya said. “The past is past, we don’t need to look at that right now. We are hoping for the best things to come…”

In the past, he has led India in T20Is, but Friday will mark Pandya’s debut as the ODI captain, and he’s looking forward to the challenge. “ODIs are just an extension of the T20 game in which you have to make a lot of changes. You have to be at it because every over, every ball changes the game,” Pandya said.

“In ODIs you have more set plans, once you start something the same plan could be going on for six overs. It is just (about) how we can control that period…”

Soon after the Australia ODIs end, the players will get busy with the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pandya believes that it won’t be a challenge to make sure that the players are focused for the bilateral series.

“We all are professionals and this is not the first time we are playing the IPL. This is going to be my ninth or 10th season and almost everyone has been around for far too long. Playing for the country is a different honour and pride so that does not even come into question. To be very honest, I had to think about this question because I don’t think any individual has got this thought of motivating more because the IPL is around. IPL is IPL and how we take it series-by-series, even the IPL will be the same…”

The IPL starts on March 31 in Ahmedabad with Pandya’s defending champion Gujarat Titans taking on Chennai Super Kings.

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