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Dhoni sees promise in bowlers’ preparations

India captain backs bowlers to come good, insists on executing plans better

By Anand Subramaniam in
Slowly, but steadily the city of Adelaide is coming to terms with the hype of an India-Pakistan tie. Players from both sides who have walked out for their practice drills or enjoyed a casual walk in the streets have been hounded by fans for an autograph or the odd selfie as a token of remembrance. India and Pakistan jerseys, painted faces and packed team hotels have become a common sight and the entrance of the Adelaide Oval, always buzzing with activity, keeps reminding you of the marquee clash. This is India v Pakistan and quite naturally, the most anticipated contest of the tournament.

India captain MS Dhoni is wary of the euphoria surrounding the match and expects it to be a good contest. “It will be a high voltage game,” he said. “With so many fans coming from India, it will be a houseful. It's one of the most prized games when it comes to the ODI format. It's a perfect scenario to start and the preparations leading up to the game has been fantastic. When we play Pakistan there's definitely more intensity on the field, and with a lot of fans being around, I think it will be an opportunity for everyone to raise their level of performance.”

The good thing about this young bunch of Indian players is that they are not overwhelmed by the humongous occasion. “What's brilliant about this team is you don't need to calm nerves,” Dhoni said. They have been playing ODI cricket for quite some time. They are also part of various IPL squads, which means they are quite used to playing in front of big crowds and tense situations. Most of them are experienced when it comes to handling tense situations.”

Both teams have met each other five times in the 50-over World Cup with India winning all five of them. Dhoni claimed, his side won’t be taking the burden of making it six in a row and instead will look to execute their gameplan well. “I'm not somebody who believes greatly in stats. Irrespective of where the stats lie, what's most important for us will be the execution part. We have got quite a few plans and need to be consistent in its execution. We have lacked a bit on that front; hopefully we will start executing well.”

Execution will be the key, for after all, the team has not had the best of runs leading up to the match on Sunday. India did register a solitary win on Australian soil this summer against Afghanistan in the warm-ups with the batsmen getting runs but the bowlers looking a tad ineffective. 

Dhoni was of the view that their long stay in Australia and the practice sessions will come in handy. “In the last two practice games that we played, the bowlers did execute a few plans, and they were quite happy with them. There were instances where they went for runs but at the same time there were good performances by the bowlers. Against Australia, Maxwell went after the bowling and was able to score freely which made the bowlers reassess their plans. Whatever plans you have, if you can execute them then definitely you will create problems for the opposition.

“The bowlers are looking good. We had a couple of practice sessions and they made the most out of it. The yorker bowling was really good by all the fast bowlers, and at the same time the variations have also looked good in the nets. Where we drastically need to improve is the easy boundary balls in the first few overs when the ball is new and the batsmen can actually use your pace. Bowling well in the first ten overs will be a key factor,” the captain said.