Mahendra Singh Dhoni says his bowlers have brought about India’s “remarkable difference” between a fruitless tour of Australia and the Cricket World Cup and are making him look good as a captain. Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures
India was heavily beaten by Australia in a four-test series in December and January, and finished last behind Australia and England in a one-day tri-series which seemed the most unpromising preparation for the defense of its world title.
Dhoni said a 10-day break after that series allowed India to freshen up, and the massive fan support they received in their opening cup match against Pakistan hugely boosted their confidence and motivation.
But he said the greatest contribution to the transformation of India, unbeaten in five cup matches, has come from the bowling attack.
With Tuesday’s eight-wicket win over Ireland, which left India unbeaten and atop Pool B, Dhoni matched Clive Lloyd’s record of nine consecutive World Cup victories. He deflected credit for the achievement, pointing out captains are made by the players they lead.
India has bowled its opponents in all five of its matches so far, and it is that, Dhoni said, that has underpinned its success.
“I’m best when the bowlers are bowling well,” he said. “It makes the job slightly easy for me because you have a plan, but unless it’s executed well …
“It can make you look like a good captain, but at other times people can look and think, ‘What is he doing?’ You can have two slips but if the bowler bowls on the pads it doesn’t really look good.
“I feel that’s where the remarkable difference has come from – the bowlers’ end. They’re very aware of the plans, and at the same time they’re bowling to the field. That’s the big difference in our performance so far.”
Dhoni said he didn’t feel that his decision to relinquish the Test captaincy impacted on his leadership of the one-day side.
“I’m just the same,” he said. “The things that have changed are the results.
“Apart from that, the players are the same, so I don’t think that has anything to do with the Test captaincy.
“The things the bowlers are doing are things that I haven’t seen for a long time, particularly with the Indian team setup. You used to keep telling them bowl to one line, bowl one length, that creates pressure, but it was more like a said thing that was listened to by them, but now they’ve seen and they’ve tasted it.”
Dhoni praised India’s ability to rally as a team after the “difficult” tour to Australia.
“The moment you start thinking about participating in a World Cup the adrenaline starts flowing,” Dhoni said.
“Then, with a lot of fans coming from India, and starting with an India-Pakistan game, was just fantastic.
“That also gives you that extra edge and pushes you one step further. Ultimately, the players have had to lift themselves up because it was not an easy test series (against Australia), playing four test matches in a month’s time is very draining, and it’s always the same bunch of players who are playing the test matches.
“Hopefully, we’ll keep moving forward with the kind of momentum we have.”