Having played under Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the now-suspended Chennai Super Kings, Australian all-rounder John Hastings credited the Indian limited overs skipper for being instrumental in building a formidable team.
“There’s little margin for error in this format. Their batsmen have a lot of confidence right through from Dhawan and (Rohit) Sharma to Kohli, Raina and then there’s Dhoni coming in. I think that stems from the captain. Having played under Dhoni in Chennai, he just fills you with a lot of confidence. I am assuming that what he is doing with youngsters,” Hastings said at the Australian team’s ‘Open Media’ Session.
“It was a young group that has become a little bit older and are all backing themselves and are full of confidence. I just think they are all in really good form,” the burly fast bowler was full of praise for the ‘Men In Blue’.
He also spoke about former India captain Sourav Ganguly’s contribution at the start of the millennium.
“There’s a lot of belief and confidence in the Indian team. It’s same with the Aussies as both the teams play with a lot of passion. It’s probably the Ganguly period which started all this… He was the first to take the game to Australia. But there’s no animosity off the field, we’re very good friends.”
Asked why the record five-time World Champions have not been successful in the T20 format, he said: “One of the main reasons is that we haven’t had a settled line-up, lot of different players have been tried. Guys have been resting and the main guys haven’t been able to take their position in the team.”
Having come in Kolkata on the back of a 2-1 T20I series win in South Africa, Aussies are better prepared this time, he asserted.
“We have had a good tour over the last two weeks in South Africa. We’ve had a settled team, settled line-up, Smith, Warner, Watson, Finch have played a lot of cricket in India. Expect us to do better than the past. We haven’t changed as a team: the attitude always been the same. Just that having that core group together and knowing your roles is the key to us performing well.”
The 30-year-old, who made his ODI debut against India in Visakhapatnam in 2010, said his knowledge of the conditions was a key factor in him being selected.
“I was also part of the 2011 World Cup here but I didn’t play a game but learnt a lot on those tours. I feel I do have that experience now. That’s probably why I have been selected to this Australia team.”
As a bowler, Hastings’ job would be to out think the batsmen who keep on improvising in the shortest version of the game.
“These days, the batters are so good, they can hit the ball anywhere in the field. So, you’ve got to be one step ahead of the batter and also make sure that you’ve got a lot of variety so they don’t know what kind of ball is coming…
“Not always the slower balls, the fast cutters that you can bowl into the wicket. Can’t bowl the same ball more than once because if you do so the ball will sail over heads for six.”
“Having played India over in Australia, our wickets were pretty similar, pretty flat and slow surfaces. India played quite well there. On such surfaces, you have to have a lot of variety, two-three slower balls, execute a good yorker and be able to hit a really good length at the top of the stumps.
“So, there’s a lot of different factors that come into play when you are playing on flat pitches. Small grounds, flat wickets, it’s quite tough with little margin for error,” he said.