Will strategise just before next game: Dhoni
Colombo, Oct 1: Everything except the toss went India’s way in their must-win game against Pakistan. Keeping their record against their arch rivals in World Cups intact, India opened their account in the Super Eights with a thumping victory against Pakistan. But still, there are a lot of permutations and combinations that will decide whether MS Dhoni’s men will join the Australians in the next round. Since they will be playing the last match of this stage, they have an advantage of knowing exactly what they need to do to qualify for the semi-finals.
While interacting with the media, Dhoni spoke about the Indian team‘s performance and the road ahead.
Excerpts from his post-match press conference:
On whether India has finally found the right combination
It is horses for courses as I have said before. We will look to play according to whatever suits the conditions the best. It depends on what kind of wicket we are playing on when we play our next game. So, we have not decided for the playing XI for the next game. We will wait and watch.
On the performance of the bowlers
Assessing the performance of the bowlers particularly keeping the last game in mind, it won’t be really right. As I told you, the ball got wet and it was really difficult for them to bowl their variations [in the game against Australia]. We don’t have bowlers who can bowl at 145 kph. We have got bowlers who bowl slightly slower but at the same time they have got the skill to get the batsmen out. Our problem starts if there is nothing from the wicket, which means if it is not on the slower side or if there is no reverse swing or no spin, then it becomes bit of a concern. Today’s performance was a really good one because the part-timers contributed, the spinners bowled well and also the fast bowlers [did well]. In the first two overs we gave away a few runs but after that I felt we were quite consistent.
On Yuvraj Singh’s performance
Yuvi was always part of the team. There was no consideration whether he will play or not play. Especially when we play with seven batsmen, the role of the part-timers is very important. Virat is one option but, having a left-arm away going option is good to have. Here Yuvi’s performance is important. We all know that he is good fielder as well. Today he affected a good run-out as well. If we are playing with four specialist bowlers, then it is difficult to leave out Yuvraj Singh. His batting today will give him a lot of confidence.
On whether at any point of the tournament he was concerned about Yuvraj’s fitness
When it comes to his fitness, as far as this format is concerned, he looks very fit for this format. I think he has done a lot in the last few months. It is not like he has playing cricket straight in the T20 World Cup. Before this tournament he has spent a lot of time in the NCA [National Cricket Academy] and after that he also played a bit of active domestic cricket, a few T20 games, etc. He looks good. I am not really concerned about his fitness. This batting performance today will give him a lot of confidence because even if you play in the domestic, circuit you don’t get to play against bowlers who bowl at the international level. He will take a lot of positives from all these matches. We all know once he gets going he is a terrific batsman to have in the side.
On the wicket
The wicket was a bit slow. Initially we saw that the new ball was coming on to the bat. [But] it was two-paced, some balls did not bounce and some went past really fast. I think their plan was to cash in on the new ball and so they sent Shahid Afridi up the order. The good thing for us was that we kept getting wickets at regular intervals. Whatever the format be if you get wickets regularly, then after 10-12 overs the batsman is in doubt whether he should go all out or not and then the team works towards a par score. I think they too must have thought that if they can get 135-140 runs, it would be good. But our bowlers bowled well, so they could only get to 128.
On whether there is too much dependence on Virat Kohli
The good thing for us in this tournament so far, including the warm-up games, is that all of our top seven batsmen have played matches. All have got a chance to bat and all of them have batted under a bit of pressure whether it is in a World Cup game or in a warm-up match. So in a way, everyone has got some exposure in matches this format; so that’s a big positive for us. So, if we go to the next stage, it isn’t like the lower order or the middle order hasn’t batted. So, it’s a big positive
On whether the batsmen were thinking of the rate at which they needed to score to stay ahead on net run-rate
The way they batted in the last few overs, they tried to play the big strokes. We play so many games that the batsmen are experienced enough [to know what needs to be done]. Virat has played quite a few games and Yuvraj is a very experienced guy. Once they were in and they knew that even if we lose a few wickets we will win the game, they went after the bowlers and scored the runs. Looking at the wicket it would have been a bit difficult if you are supposed to get 50, 60-odd runs and you have to get them in 5-6 overs. [Besides] if you lose a few wickets, the pressure mounts on you. So, I think it was a right decision. I think they batted really well.
On whether there is something called momentum in T20 given India’s big wins and one big loss
I don’t really think so. If you see in this tournament quite a few teams have had a comfortable win and then a bad defeat. You have to take it a one day at a time and see the wicket. Some wickets suit you and some don’t. You have to take it in your stride. But you have to get a bad loss out of your system but can’t get it out completely as well because you learn a lot from that too. Let’s see what happens going ahead. Australia is performing consistently. Hopefully, in the knock out stage consistent performance will be important.
On whether he has thought about the likelihood of lifting the trophy for the second time
As I have always said I believe in staying the present. Winning the World Cup is still a long way to go. Our priority is to qualify for the next stage for which we need to win the next game. One should not think too far ahead of time. What we do in the next couple of days and how we perform in the next game is important. After that lottery cricket will start in the knock out stage if someone bats extremely well or bowls well, if you have the lottery ticket you will win.
On his strategy going in to the next game
Our strategy will depend on the match that is played ahead of our match. Depending on the result of that match we will have to formulate our strategy. So, there is no point in forming a strategy right now. It is possible that the strategy that we make may not be required at all, so we will wait and watch.
And as far as the selection goes it remains in the dressing room. Sehwag especially has a brilliant record against Pakistan, so it is difficult to leave him out, especially when you are playing against Pakistan.
On whether they have an advantage since they will be playing the last game of the Super Eights
It is the last match of the Super Eight and it can be the last match of the tournament for us. We will see what the situation is and what we need to do. Of course winning will be important for us. If we come know the equation of how many runs we need to make if we bat first or how quickly we need to wrap up the opposition, etc, [it will help]. It will be a tricky situation. It will also depend on the wicket how it plays on that day. We will wait and watch. We have some time ahead of the game.
On the team composition and whether Harbhajan Singh is likely to play since SA doesn’t have a good record against spin
The first match starts at 3:30 so we can watch on television if the ball is turning or not since all teams have good spinners; that too has an impact on deciding the playing XI. But to say anything right now about who will play or not play is difficult.
On how he decides on the timing of bringing in the part-timers
It is a bit difficult frankly because at times I have seen [that if] you try to go for that one extra over [from the part-timers] and it goes for 20-25 runs and the whole analysis goes awry. So, at times if you are comfortable with what is on the board and rather than gambling too much and saying that if I give that part-timer one more over. If it is a bad over, the score moves up by 20-25 runs, then it becomes a bit difficult on a slow wicket. So, what we decide is are we comfortable with whatever the opposition has put and if the specialist bowlers bowl and this is the amount of runs that they may score and if we are comfortable with that score at the end of the day, we will look to chase that. If the part-timers have done their job, there is no point in pushing them because a risk can happen at any time, so I should be happy once they have bowled four good overs.
On whether he is surprised with South Africa’s performance
They are a very good side. They have a complete bowling line-up with fast bowlers, Jacques Kallis, two spinners, and at the same time they have batsmen who can score runs at a good pace right from AB [de Villiers] to Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy; so they are a very good side. But in this format you have to click a team or if you have someone like a Chris Gayle in your side, then he needs to click and on his own he can win you games, but otherwise you have to click as a team. If somebody scores 40 or 50-odd runs and the rest play cameos of 10-15 runs in four-five deliveries; it really helps the team to win and those odd run-outs and runs saved really matter. They are a really good team, they have got the balance and they have got the talent.