For a nation blessed with talented batsmen, it did come as a surprise when India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni lamented the lack of depth in the line-up. Batting has been India’s mainstay but with just days to go for the World Cup, Dhoni’s sudden revelation could also mean an effort not to allow the pressure to build up on the team. Excerpts from Dhoni’s open media session ahead of the warm-up against Australia.
On the team’s batting
We are not that deep when it comes to batting and are different to other teams. Wickets in hands is our strength and once we have wickets in hand we can really exploit the conditions. You have to pick options and learn to score runs freely. Also, we have to alter out batting order according to the conditions.
On the bowling
What is important is to adapt to the conditions and the middle overs. Bowling in the middle overs will also be crucial because that will put pressure on the opposition which will put a cap on the scoring from the 35th over onwards and the slog. We have not had much opportunity to bowl in the slog overs which is something that will come into action when the World Cup starts.
On the recent poor run of form
Even while playing the ICC Champions trophy, we were going through a rough patch. But, the guys stepped up during that tournament and we played very consistently, which counts.
On playing Pakistan
A lot of people have different views about India-Pakistan matches. How I personally take it is similar to playing Australia, Sri Lanka or any other Test playing nation. The moment you start thinking about a traditional rivalry, you are just going to be adding pressure on yourself.
On the warm-up ties
We will use the two warm-up games to settle with the playing eleven that will feature in the first game. The warm-ups will be crucial from the perspective of what we want to achieve out of it.
On the break
We have been here (Australia) for quite sometime now. The team would have definitely felt the work load playing the Test matches and ODI series and this break would have definitely helped them recharge their batteries.
On the World Cup prospects
This World Cup, most of the teams are quite balanced. It will be a very special World Cup for all the teams. It will be a matter of which team is more consistent and what kind of momentum they take with them into the knockout stages. If you see the past, there have been a few teams that do really well in ICC tournaments but may not be the best of teams when it comes to bilateral series. They have always stepped up when it comes to the ICC tournament.
On the burden of expectations
The expectations of the people are very high which we figured out when we were touring in India and playing at different venues in the 2011 World Cup. The same will apply to the Australian and New Zealand side since they are playing at home. At the same time, their culture is slightly different. What is more important is the 15-member squad and how we as a team do well. We can’t think about the expectation level. We constantly have to deal with the expectation levels of the fans of India and we need to think and concentrate on executing our plans. We know what needs to be done and we will be concentrating on that.
What we have successfully done in the last three to four years is that we have mellowed down the things that happens on the field apart from cricket. We have stuck to good aggressive cricket on the field but what we have minimised is the verbal things that often happens with the cricketers, which is good for the game. You want to play it as a sport and you have to play it hard and you have to maintain the spirit of the game which both the sides have done well.
On becoming a dad
I have been blessed with a daughter. Mom and daughter both are good. As of now I am on national duty. World Cup is a very important campaign and the rest can wait as of now.
India vs Australia warm-up game: (Live on Star Sports 1, 9 am)