There may be changes in playing XI: Dhoni
Colombo, Sep 22: India will take on England at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Sunday, 23rd September in their second match of the 2012 ICC World Twenty20. Speaking to the media ahead of the match, skipper MS Dhoni said that, they would like to give most of players in the side at least one game, so that the they can pick the best XI during the knockout stages. After the game against Afghanistan, Dhoni feels that there are some areas that the team needs to work on. While addressing the media here, he also discussed the team’s composition and strengths.
On England’s performance and India’s strategy against them
I think it was a good performance by them. But we need to worry about the things that we have to do well, and not about the good things that other sides have to do. There are quite a few areas that we need to improve on and we are focusing on that.
On the areas that India needs to work on and the bowling
[…] Not to forget the warm-up game against Pakistan where were playing with 12 players, which meant that we were playing with five specialists bowlers. We will have to see that performance also [while deciding] whether the bowler who will come in will really make a difference or not. In the first warm-up game it was the seventh batsmen that really scored runs. Rohit [Sharma] batted really well and scored runs for us. So, it is a difficult decision to make. We will see how it goes in coming games and then we will be in a better position to decide in the next stage of the games whether we will have to play with five bowlers or whether we can manage with four.
On today’s practice session
Today the practice was optional, so there were boys that were missing like Zak [Zaheer Khan], R Ashwin and Virender Sehwag. Viru got hit yesterday, but I think he is fit.
On whether it is slightly easier to focus while playing against a tougher side
It is. The reason being when you are playing a lower ranked side you want to be at your best […] you win that game and people expect you win that game; but if something bad happens like it has happened in the past then you are under tremendous pressure. So, it’s good that the Afghanistan game is out of the way and all the teams that we play from now on will be strong sides, who are doing really well.
On changes in the side, if any
There might be a few changes in the playing eleven but we have a policy of not announcing our playing eleven so you will have to wait and see.
On whether the sub-par performances of some key players put him under pressure
It does put a bit of pressure. The reason being in this tournament we don’t carry forward the points from this stage to the next stage; but if you are playing in a tournament where you are in a knockout stage and if something like this happens [that a key player is not in form] and we want to play with the fifth bowler then who do you drop? It becomes a tricky situation. […] What we are talking is about are potential match-winners who can on their day really take the game away. So you will like to give them a long rope so that in the knockout stages they can do really well and win a few games for us.
On India’s fast bowling attack
If you look at our fast-bowling attack they don’t extract too much bounce. They are more into swing bowling than getting too much bounce or pace. We will have to concentrate on our strengths and bowl accordingly. I am not too worried; it is just that on that particular day they will have to execute their plans and bowl in the right areas.
On facing the England team both with and without Kevin Pietersen
The point is are we talking about how good [Kevin] Pietersen is as a player? It is very difficult to replace him, especially in this format. He is one of the players who play well in all three formats of the game. So we need to separate it [the plans accordingly]. If Pietersen was part of the side, then it would be slightly more difficult side to beat. They did well in the last game but they will have to continue with their consistent performance.
On the team’s momentum
We have the right kind of momentum because this is what is expected of you. When you are playing in the World Cup and you will play the better teams as you get into the knockout stages or the super league stages; so it is nothing unusual for us. We need to play good cricket. We are not really worried and the kind of strengths that we have, we have to perform accordingly.
On Zaheer Khan and his bowling performance
It is easier to go after a bowler. If you see his performance, he should be given equal respect as Sachin [Tendulkar] gets because he is the Sachin for us when it comes to the bowling department. He has led the attack for the last few years and he has been our best bowler whatever the format may be. Maybe in the last few games he has not got wickets whether it was Test or ODIs or Twenty20. We are in a position where we can give him a few games because we are in a stage where we can look to do that. But as I said, there are other players in side whom we want to give games so that in the knockout stage everybody has a played a few games. In the batting department also we did a few changes so that every batsman gets to bat a bit. So that we are not in a scenario where the top three have performed in all the games and the rest have not got any chance to bat in the later stage of the tournament.
On whether he himself should bat up the order instead of Yuvraj Singh
We need to see which batsman suits the slot. What I mean by that is, what kind of cricket he plays. Somebody like Suresh Raina, he can get in and straight away play the big shots and there are others, somebody like Virat [Kohli] who needs to get in and play a few deliveries get a good platform and then he can go after the bowlers. I think it is the same case with Yuvraj, he needs a few deliveries up front and then he can go after the bowlers; once he is in that kind of a mood and once he has seen through the initial deliveries he can be an asset to the team, so that is one of the reasons why he needs to bat up, maybe at No 4. But we have told the batsmen that we have no set batting order and that nobody is allotted a batting slot and depending on the demands [of the game] we will change the batting order.
On empty seats during early matches of the tournament
As the tournament progresses, the top teams see more and more seats getting occupied. Of course when some of the teams that are not highly ranked are playing and even if the games are close, there won’t be many people coming to watch them. A lot of people will come from India and other parts of the world and follow their teams. If you are spending your money you would like to see the big games; so I think that is one of the main reasons that seats are empty. I am hoping that as the tournament progresses when there are two big sides playing, you will see most of the seats occupied.
On his confidence in Zaheer Khan
It depends on the tournament and also we have to see the combination we are playing with, whether it is four bowlers and a part-timer [or some other combination], one of the bowlers can have an off day any time. But if that one becomes two and then you have a part-timer then you are under considerable amount of pressure with regards to how you will manage the resources. So whether to say yes on that is a difficult one for me. It’s the only few games that we have in our hand, so we are hoping that being an experienced cricketer he gets back and really works for us.
On experimenting with the line-up
Not really. We are looking to make a few changes in our playing eleven and then go in so that most of the players who are part of the side has played at least one game before going into the next stage. That will really help us and it will also give some game time to the bowlers and the batsmen. And, later on if we are planning to play with the fifth bowler, we will be in a position to decide that this particular bowler will be the fifth bowler and he suits the conditions the best and we will be able to decide who needs to get out of the side.