Dhoni backs out-of-form players
Bengaluru, Sep 3: After a horrendous losing streak in Test cricket last year, India have started off the new season with a handsome 2-0 series win over New Zealand. A big win in Hyderabad has been followed up by a five-wicket win in Bengaluru.
Indian skipper, MS Dhoni, who made a crucial unbeaten 48 off 60 balls and guided India home along with Man-of-the-Match, Virat Kohli (51*), addressed the media after the victory. While he had special praise for Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and his spinners, R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, Dhoni hoped the pacers would improve with time.
On whether India’s batting order will be reshuffled ahead of the Test series against England and Australia
I don’t see any reshuffling at the moment. There’s time before we play our next Test series. We will be playing T20 World Cup and the Champions League. I think Gautam [Gambhir] is batting really well in the nets and it’s just a matter of time that he does the same in matches too. Even today he started off really well. So we’re hoping he would come good in the coming games.
On his spinners’ performance in the series
The spinners bowled really well in Hyderabad and Bangalore despite not been given turning tracks. It’s pleasing to see them fight hard on tracks that didn’t help them much, especially in the first innings. Overall it was a good performance by them. Fast bowlers have to chip in a bit although they bowled quite well. There was not much for fast bowlers as well. We need to improve a bit; but overall it’s quite good.
On whether it’s time to drop the non-performers
These are the men we have to fight the war with because you have put in a lot of time and effort on these players. It’s not that in just one or two games, you see players who will always perform. Also, there are two ways of fighting pressure – one is to go and play your shots while the other is to soak in the pressure. Individuals react differently to different situations. I think these are the individuals who will be featuring in the Test matches. They have to take up a little more responsibility as the season progresses and hopefully they will come right.
On the success of young batsmen who have replaced Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman
It’s pleasing to see the youngsters perform. People like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman will be always missed. Even if Pujara comes and scores a 150 or 160, you still will miss them because of the kind of performances they have given in the past 15 or 16 years. I feel the boys who are coming in are not replacing anyone. They are coming in with their own character and it was nice to see them perform. Virat, I felt, played really well in this Test match because we needed someone to soak up the pressure. He was the guy who did that in both the innings. Pujara was good in this innings as well as in the last Test. So it is a continuous learning process and they are shaping up well. It is a big positive for us.
On R Ashwin
He is bowling brilliantly. In both Tests, there was only some period where the spinners got some assistance from the pitch. They had to constantly bowl in some areas, which I thought was difficult for Ashwin because he is someone who loves to used is variations to pick up wickets. The good thing is that both the spinners complement each other. When one is taking wickets, the other one keeps it tight so that the batsmen are not taking too many runs off them. They are hunting well together.
On Sachin Tendulkar’s form
The good thing is that whenever people talk about Tendulkar’s form, he comes up with a brilliant performance and I’m waiting for that. I don’t really get worried about that.
On Suresh Raina throwing his wicket away
There are two ways of fighting pressure – one is to take the fight on and look for big shots. In the first innings, he went out there and played his shots. Had he nicked one there, people would be asking the same questions. But he did well and people said it was brilliant counterattacking batting, Different people react differently to different situations. I still remember me playing against England a long time back at Wankhede Stadium; I played a similar kind of shot. You learn from your experience.
Whether the inexperienced middle-order has forced him to change his approach as a batsman
When I go out to bat, one of Virat or Raina usually stays there. I haven’t changed too much. Whenever the ball is in my area, I look to hit it. I feel that if you play out 100-odd deliveries, you should at least score 40-45 runs if not more. At the end of the day or the innings, it’s the runs that matter. I’m not really curbing my instincts, but I want to improve as a cricketer. That’s my plan as of now.
On whether Raina’s indifferent form has made the No.6 slot a problem for him
We need to back individuals. That’s how you groom cricketers. For Raina, it’s important to have a left-hander at six or seven. We have only Gambhir is at the top order and when you have your batting order stacked up with right-handers, it’s useful if you have a left-hander at six if the wicket is turning.
But having said that, that doesn’t guarantee anyone a place in the Test side. At the end of the day, you have to keep performing well because there are youngsters on the bench who are waiting for their opportunities. To whoever is playing, you need to give a fair number of games to prove himself. So we will wait and watch how it goes. Of course, we have got good bench strength. There are people who have done well in the domestic circuit. A few of them have done well in the one-dayers as well. It’s just that the right time will come for them and they will be given a fair run.