Chase didn’t go as planned: Dhoni
Chennai, Sep 11: Although India did not win the nail-biting T20I against New Zealand at Chepauk, the hosts came out with a lot of positives from this game. Yuvraj Singh’s comeback performance included a 34-run knock and a two-over bowling spell, both of which were cheered by eager fans. Apart from the dashing all-rounder, L Balaji’s effort after returning to international cricket was also lauded by skipper, MS Dhoni.
Speaking to the media after the match, Dhoni analysed the game and discussed the team’s composition going into the 2012 ICC World T20.
On whether the match went according to the plan
Not exactly according to the plan, because by the end of the plan you want to win. But overall it was quite a good game. At the start of the game we knew it was a good wicket and the fast bowlers gave us a very good start. I think [Brendon] McCullum batted very well in the middle order where he took on our spinners and made it quite difficult for us. After that in the death overs Bala [L Balaji] bowled very well; that’s a big positive. Zak [Zaheer Khan] bowled well and Irfan [Pathan] gave us those breakthroughs that were really needed.
To start off [while batting] Virat [Kohli] had to open the innings. I thought he batted really well and after that [Suresh] Raina [batted well] and it was good to see Yuvraj Singh coming back and scoring runs. So overall, all these things were big positives. Of course, we couldn’t win the game; but in a format like this it can happen.
On Yuvraj’s return
Yeah, it was a big game for him. You know he was coming back after nine or ten months and all the eyes were on him. It was good to see him on the field. In fielding also he did well and chipped in with a couple of overs and batted well. I personally feel that he gives us the right kind of balance that we need. Of course he is not someone who will bowl all four overs in a T20 game, especially if the wicket is good but he is a variation that I can use. He can chip in with one or two overs; then use Virat in the others because if you see our bowling line-up, we have to play with four specialist bowlers and the fifth bowler will be all these part-timers. So, it will be quite tough and him as a variation will help. We all know his batting capability and he is batting at his best. He is amongst the best in the world, so I am really happy for him. As far as the team’s mood is concerned [although I am] quite disappointed with the loss but there are lots of positives that we have taken out of this game.
On the emotions surrounding Yuvraj’s return
You know it’s quite easy. Once you go onto the field, you don’t think about all these things. The main motto is to execute your plans and help the team win. I have always believed that if some of these things happen, you should try to keep it simple because, once Yuvi gets in and plays a big knock [it will be alright] I think he batted really well. From tomorrow, he can do whatever he wants to because that will not put any real pressure on him as an individual. It’s just about giving that individual a bit of space so that he can think about it what he needs to do. If you are playing after ten months, you will put pressure on yourself because you don’t know where you stand and you have played a bit of cricket but overall once he is successful. Once he has done well now you can do whatever you want for the next ten days and that won’t really bother him.
On whether he could have done things differently
No, but what should’ve been done is very difficult to assess now. He [McCullum] was batting really well and we had almost used all bowlers and I didn’t want to use an off-spinner against him because in the first half the ball was coming on nicely on to the bat. Even in the second half I felt that the spinners [when they bowled] the ball wasn’t stopping and coming on […] the bounce was not consistent and it slowed down. And with a big outfield it becomes really difficult to consistently hit over the infield. I tried everything when I was in the middle.
On the team combination ahead of the ICC World T20 World
We didn’t experiment in this game. Viru [Virender Sewag] was not fit so we had to make Virat open the innings. He will come back into the side and that will be the first playing eleven. It was important to see how Balaji is bowling. He has done really well in this IPL season and it was good to see him bowl because death overs have been a concern for us so we want to see who are our best bowlers when it comes to bowling in the death oves. With Irfan I feel there are two slots that they are fighting for. If Irfan is not playing, the balance of the team goes a bit haywire. I think Bala bowled really well in this game.
On whether he was confident of finishing the game
We were one shot away [from victory]. We had planned to stretch it till the end because the two of us, me and Yuvraj, were set. Yuvraj was batting since before me. We thought that if we were finding it difficult, then there is no reason that the new batsman coming in would be able to hit a six or a four easily. I felt that we were in a good position because if you need six from three balls, more often than not you will get them; but sometimes it doesn’t work out. It was one of those rare cases where we couldn’t achieve the target.
On bringing in Rohit Sharma after the fall of Yuvraj’s wicket
He is among the big hitters down the order. If you need four runs from one ball, you want your big hitters. But you can always speculate on that because we had Manoj [Tiwary] and Irfan after him, but I personally feel Rohit had more chances of scoring those four runs.
On not sending Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary ahead of him
I could have but I didn’t so that’s how it is. You want to ultimately win the game so we thought that, being a good finisher I need to be there at that point of time. I am also someone who loves to play a few deliveries before going for the big shots. It is quite difficult to bat down the order not only for me but even if it is Rohit or someone else, coming and hitting the big shots straight away is difficult. Everyone doesn’t have the ability to do that. It was a game where he had a chance to become a hero but he could not do it. Fair enough. I think we, me and Yuvraj when we were set, we should have finished the game but we couldn’t. It happens.