Within the space of twenty-four hours, three remarkable comebacks were witnessed in the sporting arena. Roger Federer won his quarter-final match at the Australian Open after seeing off seven match-points! In Cricket, India came back against New Zealand when all was thought lost, with Mohammed Shami denying the Kiwis the necessary two runs to win needed in four balls! Then Rohit Sharma hit two sixes in the last two balls of the Super Over to win the match. And, in the Under-19 Cricket World Cup underway in South Africa, New Zealand eliminated the West Indies with an incredible ninth wicket stand of 86 runs. These were not just nail-biting finishes and wonderful to watch, but also a life lesson that winners never give up!
History is replete with incidents of major battles being lost because of a lack of resolve. Often, victories have been won because the level of desperation did not allow backing off from a confrontation. Those involved in a struggle should understand this psychology of combat. In every field, therefore, psychological preparation is a very important element. A primary task of coaches and mentors is to impart this combative attitude – a never say die spirit. It is also necessary in a competitive situation to properly gauge the motivation level of the opponent.
The new breed of Indian, as exemplified in the Virat Kohli type of persona, does not consider defeat an option. It does not accept setbacks in philosophical vein as karmic inevitability, but finds the incentive to try again. This is, both, the result of and despite the general environment in the country. India, today, is split between the fatalism of those resigned to their lot, preferring security to risk-taking, and the ambitious go-getters who fail to understand why things should remain as bad as they are. It is clear what kind of a mindset needs to be encouraged. The feeling inculcated quite systematically for a number of reasons that Indians should know their place has to be eliminated from the general psyche. To use the Cricket analogy, it begins with a Gavaskar, who first staunchly changed the timidity against fast bowling with a resolutely straight bat; followed by a Kapil Dev, who began to take the battle into opposition territory; moving on to the Sachin Tendulkar era, when it was natural to score runs and expect victory; to the present era, where absolute domination with bat and ball is the default position. India is headed for similar heights in other domains – the present travails are only a part of the process.