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Pacers,Jadeja hold the key: Dhoni

India captain says all-rounder provides balance,while quicks necessary for conditions

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: May 31, 2013 12:49:00 am

From the squad that won India the World Cup in 2011,only four members have survived the chop and change going into their next ICC event — the Champions Trophy in June. Still,captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (one of the survivors,the other being Virat Kohli,Suresh Raina and R Ashwin) is confident that he has the players to fill in the missing slots.

In order to achieve this team transition at a time when the one-day game itself is undergoing rule changes,said Dhoni in India’s first presser at Edgbaston on Thursday,all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and his fast bowlers will play key roles.

“The conditions are very different (here in England) compared to sub-continent. We have to look at the composition of the side and see what kind of bowlers we use. Both (the conditions and the new rules) forces us to play with five bowlers,” insisted India’s captain.

Right balance

While balance remains an issue of paramount importance for the Indian team,Dhoni believes that playing Jadeja at number seven in the batting order and using him for his full quota of 10 overs with the ball makes him nothing less than an asset. “Jadeja gives us the balance that we really need. He is a great asset to have with his 10 overs of spin bowling and batting down the order,” Dhoni said. “We are hoping Jadeja fires or else we have a few others,” he added.

And who could those ‘some others’ be? The likely candidates,were Jadeja not to play up to expectations,are Irfan Pathan and Rohit Sharma — players who can hold their own with both bat and ball.

While Rohit played India’s last one-day assignment — the series against England at home in January — as an opener,Dhoni indicated on Thursday that India will in all likelihood play with specialists in that role. “It’s good to have Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay back in the side,” said Dhoni. It also doesn’t hurt that both Dhawan and Vijay were in marvellous form against Australia in the home Test series before the IPL. “They both scored runs in Test matches against a good side. Vijay also had a decent IPL whereas Shikhar did well after coming back from an injury. It’s always better to start off with two proper openers. Rohit will be the back-up option while I consider Dinesh as a specialist middle-order batsman,” he explained.

All about adaptability

While India have already participated in a few ODIs under the new rules,they were all played in their backyard. This,then,will be the first time Dhoni & Co will feature in the new one-day game outside of their comfort zone. And it happens to be in England,a country where they did not perform very well the last time they toured. Dhoni,therefore,told the media the faster they adapt to it,the better are India’s chances of winning matches.

“We have to see how quickly the players adapt. We have to plan the composition of our squad depending on the talent that we have. As of now,no one has got niggles and it’s always important to have full squad fit so that you are not forced to field your second XI,” Dhoni said.

Talking of fast bowlers,the ones Dhoni hopes will play a large part in this event,the captain was more than pleased with some of the newer members of the team — such as the talented Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Kumar,feels Dhoni,will be quite a handful with his swing in conducive conditions.

“He is someone who can swing the ball both ways. He has plenty of cricket in front of him and he will have to face the challenges. With new balls used from both ends,it will be a challenge to bowl between 5th and 8th overs.”

Asked about India’s lacklustre performances in series and tournaments held immediately after the IPL, Dhoni brushed it off as a co-incidence. “Look at the positives. The Indian players get exposure to play the best bowlers in the world,the likes of Dale Steyn. The IPL helps us to stay in touch and good rhythm. Also the travelling is not very hectic as the hospitality is good,” he said. “Yes,we have the stats against us but we need to improve that.”

Gag remains,but skipper mumbles: Some players are mentally weak

Mahendra Singh Dhoni refused to answers questions on the IPL spot-fixing scandal,and the only remark that he made about the scandal was that some players were “slightly mentally weak” as compared to others.

At the press conference in Birmingham,the ICC official facilitating the session reminded the journalists that the interaction should be limited to the Champions Trophy. Unsurprisingly,however,the advise wasn’t heeded to.

But Dhoni,gagged by the BCCI,ducked all spot-fixing questions. “If I have not answered Indian journalists (in Mumbai),there is no reason why I should answer you…at the right time (I will speak),” he said.

Asked if the Champion Trophy is an opportunity to “restore the reputation” of Indian cricket,Dhoni said,“It is not that the reputation has gone. When the right time comes,I will answer it. As of now,I don’t think we have lost the opportunity because whatever the set up is,(it is) through out the world. You have some people who would be slightly mentally weak as compared to others.” —ENS

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