We might go with five bowlers: MS Dhoni
Colombo, Sep 27: Riding high on their all-round performance against England, India are all set to face off against Australia in their opening game of the Super Eights phase at the R. Premadasa stadium. Speaking to the media ahead of the match, skipper MS Dhoni said that he is likely to go into the match armed with five bowlers. The India captain, who has led the team too various highs in the last five years, also discussed how the team has evolved over time.
Excerpts from his press conference:
On the Super Eights phase
We have enjoyed the matches so far. The competition will get tougher now and the importance of each game will multiply. So I think it will be good for the spectators.
On the dilemma of choosing spinners for the upcoming game
Today’s practice session was optional and everyoneis fit according to the physio. As far as the playing eleven are concerned, you will have to wait till tomorrow. It is most likely that we will play with five bowlers, but the combination will be decided depending on the wicket as well. It will be a fresh wicket. We will it see it after the press conference. And thecombination will depend on how it looks tomorrow before the match also.
On the Australians’ warning about peppering batsmen with chin music
For the last five years they have been saying the same things. Let them speak; we are working on what we need to work.
On his batting position and shuffling the order
We bat according to the slots. It’s the shorter format, and there are some batsman who can straight away go and hit, but there are others who need to spend time on the wicket before they start hitting. So, you have to think about all that. We also have to see what is the bowling attack of the opposition team and it’s composition, as that also influences our batting order.
On whether the role of the openers has evolved over the last five years in the T20 format
All international sides have got aggressive openers who look to get off to a good start. Itis important to get off to a good start with the new ball because you if can put pressure on the opposition bowler, then more often than not they look to save themselves. So, if you have agood start,you have an upper hand. In the subcontinent also,it is important [to get off to a good start]. Depending on where you are playing, initially the ball comes on to the bat nicely and from the eighth to the twelfth over is the time when the game changes. We have quite a few wickets that slow down and stroke-play becomes a bit tough. It is important that the top four take advantage of the ball coming on to the bat. Our openers are among the best. They have got some fabulous partnerships between them. They run between the wickets really well. So, I think they complement each other.
On whether India are better prepared tonegotiate short-pitched deliveries given the way Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma batted against England
The side has not really changed for some time now. Most of the players who are part of the side have played a decent amount of ODIs, T20Is and Test cricket, so they have got more exposure and they know what to do. The short ball is as much of a trouble to us as it is to anyone else. Each and every batsman we have seen has gone out on a short ball. So,it’s no different [when it comes to us].
It just depends on how quick your bowlers are. If I am bowling, I won’t rely on the short ball for sure. But if you are bowler who bowls 145kmph or 150 kmph, then definitely you will look to use the short-pitched delivery.
On how difficult it will be drop a senior batsmen if he is planning to go in with five bowlers
I think it will be one of the toughest decisions that I have taken so far. But we will have to see what combination fits best, and we will have to wait and watch. It has to be a good decision because that is what really matters.
On his strategy against Shane Watson and David Warner
They are one of the best [opening pairs] because they have done well consistently. Both of them play aggressive cricket and look to score as many runs as possible in the first six overs. We will stick to our strengths and like to bowl into the areas that are our strengths. Since we are looking to play with five bowlers, there is a bit more variety up the sleeve, which can be used in the first six overs.
On how the side is doing with there being only few senior players in their ranks
The good thing is we still have experienced cricketers who are part of the side. [Virender] Sehwag is one of them, Zaheer Khan is another one, Yuvraj Singh has played a lot of games and in this team we also have Harbhajan Singh who has played for more than 10 years now. So, we are not lacking in experience. The youngsters, who are part of the side have played four-five years of international cricket on and off, so they have fair amount of experience too.
It is important that the seniors guide the youngsters especially when they are batting in the middle because it is between the two that they decide the game plan. It is upto the seniors to guide the juniors as to where the game needs to go, where they need to be in the next two-three overs and [assess] who is bowling and what the strategy should be. The youngsters are showing good improvement as we play more.
Captaincy remains the same because you hardly do anything different. You have different kinds of talents or resources that you have use. When the resources don’t suit the conditions then you may be in bit of trouble. But more often than not you manage with the resources [you have]. I am glad we have good batsmen and bowlers. The fielding has been a bit of a worry on and off, but with the youngsters coming into the side I have seen considerable amount of improvement in the fielding department.
On whether having played the group games at Premadasa gives India and Australia a bit of an advantage
I don’t really think so. The only point of consideration would be if you are playing at Pallekele and Hambantota, the fast bowlers get a bit more bounce [from the wicket and] there is a bit more swing for them. But also strangely we have seen that both these venues have given a bit more turn to the spinners.
On this wicket [at Premadasa] I have not seen a lot of turn for the spinners so far [but], the ball has stopped a bit. It depends on how the wicket is prepared. Now the groundsmen will have a bit more time to prepare the wicket, so we will see how it looks before the start of the game.
On handling off-field matters and how they affect the players
What matters most is how understanding the players in the team are because like you said a lot of things keep happening off the field and it is important to ignore them as much as possible. The expectation levels are very high and already there is a lot of stress while playing at the international level, so these are things that we can ignore. You can conserve your energy by not thinking about it and would be better off if they use it to think about the right things like, cricket and cricketing skills.