Dhoni defends his team, strategies
Colombo, Oct 3: Although they faced a rather unfortunate exit from the ICC World Twenty20, 2012, skipper MS Dhoni was satisfied with his team’s performance in the tournament. India ended their WT20 campaign with a one-run win over South Africa. In his post-match interaction with the media, Dhoni backed his bowlers and batsmen while patiently explaining his strategies and giving insights into his decisions. The India captain also discussed the various factors that led to India’s exit from the tournament in spite of winning four out of the five matches.
Excerpts from the press conference:
On not playing two spinners against SA
According to the equation [India needed to win with four overs to spare to edge out Pakistan on NRR], our strategy was to field first and try and overhaul the target in 15 or 16 overs. That’s why we thought it would help to have an extra batsman. But batting first, we needed to win by a margin of 31 runs. We were not very comfortable while making the strategy because when you are batting first you don’t know what a good score is. The performance was otherwise satisfactory. In the end, the results of the other match impacted immensely. As the required margin for winning was too big, we had a bit of a problem.
On India’s inconsistency in WT20s despite playing a lot of T20 cricket in IPL
IPL is very different. Whatever said and done it is a domestic tournament. Although there are a lot of international players participating in it, the domestic players play a very important role. And when you are playing against an international side, the bowling attack of the oppositions is quite good. If the wicket doesn’t support our bowlers, we struggle a bit. We find it more difficult to bowl on a flat wicket than a seaming one. When we played in the first edition [World T20, 2007], 90 per cent of our matches were in Durban where our bowlers were very effective. That meant, whatever we were scoring we were able to defend it. So if you ask me, I would prefer a turning track or a seaming wicket for a Twenty20 game because it suits our bowlers more as compared to a flat track.
On where he sees himself five years down the line
Definitely I won’t be here after five years; that’s for sure. I live for the present as I have said so many times. I don’t look too much ahead in time. For me it is where I am and what I am doing right now that matters. Whatever comes in the future, will be handled that but it is more important to handle the present first.
On whether there is a need for an overhaul in the team
The same question was asked when we lost in England and Australia. This is one question that arises every time we don’t do well. But just see the team’s performance in this tournament. We lost just one game and lost it badly. We all know what impact the rain has on the bowlers, especially spinners. And if you have bowlers who don’t bowl 140 plus, it gets all the more difficult. Let’s be practical about what the reason was and then ask ourselves if it was the fault of the players? It was not. Also, when you are at a stage where the results of other matches have an impact on your qualification chances, it gets very tough. You don’t want to face such situation but sometimes you are just forced to accept what is pushed on you.
On whether the batting line-up needs a bit of reshuffling
Apart from Virender Sehwag in the top-order and Suresh Raina and myself in the lower-order, all our other batsmen prefer to face a few deliveries before going for the big hits. So, if either I or Raina goes up the order and gets out, the other batsmen come in to bat in the 13th or 14th over. In such situation, how many runs can we get on the board? Not many. Currently, we are utilizing most of the players to the best of their potential. Virat Kohli needs to bat at No 3. If, in the first six overs we lose too many wickets, Rohit Sharma goes in at 4. If not then Yuvraj Singh goes. More than the number at which one goes in to bat, it is the number of overs left that we take into consideration. Sometimes, a bit of change is needed also depending on the kind of bowlers the opposition has. It is always good to have a left-right combination because if the spinners are operating, at least one batsman can go after them.
If you want to use the strength of the batting line optimally, you have to do a certain things in a certain way. If you see the stats you will say that Virat Kohli is our best batsman. But if he was batting at No. 5 or 6 where would he have stood and how much of an advantage could he have taken of the kind of form he is in? One of the reasons he is performing so well is because that position suits him and he can exploit the bowlers more batting at No.3.
On the team’s strategy while defending 121 for qualifying for the semis
We were looking to go after them. We wanted to make the most of the new ball. I knew that if the fast bowlers can swing it a bit and get early breakthroughs, after the six overs we can put pressure with our spinners. If the fast bowlers come to bowl later, it becomes difficult for them to get the batsman out unless he plays a rash shot. So, we started with fast bowlers and got the breakthrough that was needed. In between they batted quite well when an over from Rohit went for a few runs. 121 was quite a low target to defend. We won the game by one run, so it’s very difficult to say if changing a few strategies could’ve enabled us to defend 120-odd runs.
On whether it is time to abandon the Rohit Sharma experiment
It is not an experiment. What we need to see is where he batted at different points of time. Initially, he was forced to bat at No. 6 or 7. I would give credit to him for still going out and looking to hit the very first ball because the team needed him to, although he got out doing so. It reflected poorly on his average but he still did it. You need players who play for the team and not for their own averages. So, we need to give him some backing. Later we realised that it is good for the youngsters to be batting up the order as that will give them more chances to perform well. And that is one of the main reasons why we gave the No.3 spot to Virat. It has worked beautifully for us. He is someone who gets in every time and looks to score big runs. If you force a youngster to bat at No 6 or7, at best he can score 30-odd runs and average around 15. I would still give Rohit the credit for he never thought of himself and played for the team. It is very easy to play for yourself, look to hit ground shots, not get out and be happy and be in the side.
On the team’s bowling attack
Sometime back we felt the need of genuine fast bowlers and we got them. Then we realised we need to groom them in a way that their speed is doesn’t go against them. On flat wickets they have gone for more runs than some of our other bowlers, which means, we need to be careful about the death bowling. The spinners are out of action unless it is a real square turning track. With the new rules – I have not really studied them but – if it is five fielders inside the circle for a few over, it is the spinners who will bowl in those middle overs and will have to take the pressure.