MS Dhoni backs ‘well-balanced’ side
The Indian cricket team is all set to don their blues and commence the new season on foreign shores when they compete for the ICC Champions Trophy in England. Although India have jointly held the title alongside Sri Lanka in 2002 -03 they have never been the sole owners of the trophy.
Before embarking on the campaign, India captain MS Dhoni along with coach Duncan Fletcher and manager Ranjib Biswal addressed the media on Tuesday evening.
“We have been joint winners of the Champions Trophy. We have not won the trophy so it’s a good opportunity and since most likely this will be the last Champions Trophy, it will be our last opportunity to win the title,” Dhoni told the media.
With the IPL just completed, the Indian captain said he was pleased that there’s no official report of any injury to any member of the touring party. According to Dhoni one of the biggest challenges of the tournament will be playing under the new ODI rules overseas.
“It looks like a balanced side. There are a few challenges like the new ODI rules. We will be playing outside India for the first time under the new rules. The good thing is we have two practice matches leading up to the tournament. Champions Trophy is always a tough tournament because all the top teams take part in it. And every match is a very difficult match, but overall it is looking good and we have enough time to prepare,” he said.
Acknowledging that there are spots up for grabs in the line-up, Dhoni said, “It is a good opportunity for all the youngsters who are part of the side. Yes, there are a few places that are up for grabs. I think it will depend on the individuals how they perform. (And) What the conditions are exactly. If it’s too cold fast bowlers may get an edge over spinners to start off.
“Overall it is a good platform for the youngsters to prove themselves and get good exposure when it comes to international cricket. The good thing is that almost all of them have spent a fair amount of time playing at the international level so let’s see how it goes.”
Asked if this was India’s best pace attack so far, Dhoni said, “That is a difficult one to answer because we have played in the past when the fast bowlers have been in really good nick and at the same time we had a good amount of experience. When it comes to this fast bowling line-up, you can see there are people who can exploit the conditions.
“Bhuvneshwar Kumar can really swing the ball and Umesh Yadav has got the pace and has been part of the side for some time now. We missed him last year as he was not fit. The department is looking good. It is just that we will have to adjust to the new rules of five fielders being inside the circle and accordingly determine what is the length they need to bowl.
“How quickly they adapt to the wickets and find out which areas to bowl will be important. We have got the right mix; we have few who can bowl really fast and a couple who can swing the ball and use it (the conditions) in their favour.”
India are also travelling with spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who has been successful for the side in recent times. Asked if they have included one spinner too many, Fletcher explained, “It is difficult to say because some venues like Cardiff is known to have a turners’ wicket, where it can be very low and slow – not very different to what you might get in India. You have to be careful that you prepare to play two spinners. And always remember if one is injured, there is a back-up. Probably we have a very good and balanced side this time. We have a cover for every position,” said the coach.
Discussing India’s opening pair, Dhoni said, “Our two openers, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan have done well at the Test level recently. I know it is a different challenge in the ODIs when there is pressure and you have to accelerate but at the same time it is important that we have a good start on which we can capitalise. Shikhar and Vijay have been very consistent and they have been rewarded for that. I am hoping that they capitalise and do well for us so that middle-order is not under pressure and express themselves.
Known for his penchant for having quick feet on the field, Dhoni once again stressed the importance of good fielding “Fielding will be very important in the shorter format, if you can get that one brilliant catch or a run-out. It can change the course of a game. The set-up is looking really nice,” he said.
When asked how the team plans to turn things around this time given that they have struggled in world tournaments after the IPL, Dhoni said, “That’s a difficult question to answer. The reason being that you have the stats to back that up. We are hoping that with the kind of fitness level that is going around right now, each and every member is looking fit. The good thing is all of them have played good cricket in the IPL and before that as well. With so much good exposure of good quality bowlers I think they will be equipped to deal with the situation.”
During the course of the tournament India will also be playing their neighbours Pakistan which is always a mouth watering contest. Speaking playing about the arch-rivals, Dhoni said, “Both teams are balanced. Pakistan’s fast bowling line-up is a very good. And they have (Saeed) Ajmal who is a mystery bowler. It will be a good competition and our batsman will have to figure them out and score runs. And at the same time our fast bowlers can exploit the conditions, there will be swing for the fast bowlers. We are hoping that it will be a very good game. Any India versus Pakistan match as we all know anywhere, it is always a slightly tensed game. And I am hoping we will be on the winning side.”
With the new season lying ahead when the India coach was asked about his stint with the team so far, he summed it up saying, “The times were difficult but as everyone appreciates or should appreciate it was a transition period. After the last few series look were we are sitting in the one-day competition, things are slowly turning and with the young players around. It is important that the Champions Trophy is a learning curve for them to start working with them and develop them for the next World Cup.”