By Anand Philar
Chennai, Dec 11 (IANS) With a 5-0 series win under his belt, skipper Gautam Gambhir was understandably overjoyed and showered praise on his India team-mates, saying that the success showcased the team's bench strength.
Speaking to the media after the eight-wicket win against New Zealand here Friday, Gambhir was quick to point out that the series win augured well for the 2011 World Cup to be held in the sub-continent.
"We are a young side and everyone wants to go out there and prove himself and that's what everyone did. I think a lot of credit goes to entire young bunch of boys because it's very easy to slip into complacency after taking a 3-0 lead, but this is what professionalism is all about and this is what showing character is all about," he said.
Gambhir, leading virtually a half-strength India with quite a few established players given a break ahead of next week's series against South Africa, said that the competition for various positions in the team had been healthy and it had brought out the best in the players.
"It's always a good sign when your bench strength performs well. It's a good thing for the selectors that there is a healthy competition in the dressing room and this what brings out the best out of player.
"You can never afford to be complacent at any stage because you know there is another one waiting in the wings," he said.
However, he observed that the World Cup would be a totally different scenario and that one needed to factor in the pressure while the fielding standards definitely needed to improve.
"I think World Cup will be a different ball game. There will be far more pressure and there will be a lot of expectations. If you want to be number one, you need to improve all the time."
"I think one area we can really look into is maybe try and improve our fielding. If we compare ourselves to New Zealanders, they were far more brilliant on the field than us," Gambhir noted.
"If we can improve our fielding as a team, I think with the kind of talent we have in our batting and bowling, we can be big contenders in the World Cup and a very strong side in the future," Gambhir said.
He was especially happy with the way off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had developed as a frontline bowler, who showed a big heart in bowling during power plays.
"Ashwin was most impressive. He is a quality bowler. If you have an off-spinner who can play in the Power Plays and slog overs, it can be a great asset for the team. He was pretty handy and in the entire five-match series he bowled brilliantly," Gambhir said.
"I think Yuvraj was also brilliant. He delivered with whatever opportunities he got with the ball and the bat and the amount of support I got from him was tremendous. He is always a match winner."
"I think Yusuf played a fantastic innings. I have always felt that Yusuf is someone who has the talent to turn the game on its head. If you see the last game, he turned it completely. Given the situation, not many would have given us a chance to win that match," he pointed out.
Gambhir felt that the pitch at Chepauk also influenced the game, and that the track offered some turn and bounce that the Indian spinners exploited.
"I think this is the first turning track we got and you don't expect the ball to turn and bounce so much in a one-dayer. So it was always difficult for them to bat because we have lot quality spinners in our side and lot of options," he said.