We don’t take any side lightly: Dhoni
Colombo, Sep 19: India will take on Afghanistan in their first game of the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 here at the R. Premadasa Stadium on today. While addressing the media ahead of the match, captain MS Dhoni spoke about the team composition and analysed his side’s strengths and weaknesses. The Indian skipper believes that part-timers will play a crucial role in India’s campaign to reclaim the coveted trophy.
On the challenges that Afghanistan is going to pose
We have lost one game and won one. Overall, the practice games gave exposure to our bowlers in terms of what needs to be done. As far as the batting goes, in the first game it was the partnership between me and Rohit [Sharma] that got us back into the game. But it was good to see the way the batsmen batted in the second warm-up game. We don’t take any side lightly be it Afghanistan or any other side. This is a format where any side can beat any side so it is important to be focused, not be over confident and get the most out of the game. We have played them before and we are treating them as any other side.
On whether bowling attack
Yes, bowling has always been a bit of concern for us. If you compare our bowling to our batting then our bowling line-up is slightly weaker than our batting. But we have experienced bowlers who can do the needful and also part-timers. We are looking to play with seven batsmen initially in the tournament, which means that the part-timers will have to do a really good job so that we can sustain with those seven batsmen. If we find that our bowling line is still weak as the tournament progresses, we will have to play with six batsmen and five bowlers.
On whether bowling in death overs is a concern
It has been a bit of a concern. We have done well in death bowling also, but we have not been consistent so it is a bit of a worry. The fast bowlers are putting in efforts to get into the groove. In this format, if you have variations [in your bowling] you can go all out and still do well. I think the bowlers will shape up well and we will try different strategies and different field settings to complement our bowlers.
On what would be a good total
It depends on the wicket. If the wicket is flat we will have to score in excess of 160, 170-odd runs. But if it’s a normal Sri Lankan wicket then 160 could also be a very good score to defend. It is important for us to not go in with a fixed score in our mind when we are batting. We will look to get off to a good start and then alter the maximum score that we can get after every five to ten overs.
On his ideal team composition for Twenty20s
My ideal bowling combination will be three pacers and one spinner and a few part-timers. But it depends on the wicket and what type of part-timers suit the role and conditions. Even in Sri Lanka, depending on the venue the attacks will be very different.
On playing seven batsmen
It is not like we are playing with seven batsmen right now. We have played with six batsmen in the 50-overs format. We have quite a few batsmen who like to go out there and express themselves, which means that they will take on the bowlers right from the first delivery. They like getting after the bowlers and so they will like the cushion of an extra batsman. It [team composition] is something that we would like to start off with. If the batsmen keep on putting up scores consistently, then we might look to play with five specialist bowlers and two part-timers.
On Rohit Shrama
If you see his Twenty20 record, he has batted really well. He is someone who can score a lot more runs. He needs to give himself a bit more time. In the last two practice games he gave himself time to get in and then played the big shots. We all know that once he is set he can play all around the park and play different strokes. He has the ability to play big shots and can hit all around the park.
On whether he sees himself batting up the order
No, it seems unlikely. When you see the top seven batters, we also need to see which batsmen suits which position the best. Virat [Kohli] should bat at No.3 so then after that there is Yuvraj [Singh], [Suresh] Raina and Rohit. These are the batsmen who need to get in and I would take on the slog and look to hit the big shots take it from there on. That seems like the most likely scenario.
On Yuvraj Singh
It is all about putting up a fight and not to worry about the past or the future, which is uncertain. What we are doing right now is important. He has put in a hard fight three months back and played some cricket. He looks fit for this format. As he said, he is not 100 percent for the Test format but for this format he is shaping really well.