Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes the Indian Test team are set to dominate the rankings by the end of the forthcoming season during which the Virat Kohli-led side are scheduled to play 13 Test matches at home against New Zealand, England, Australia and Bangladesh. After the second T20I against the West Indies in Florida, the limited overs captain Dhoni, interacting with the media, spoke among other things about the Virat Kohli-led squad that grown from strength to strength in the last one year. Excerpts from the press conference:
On the Test team’s development and prospects
“I think the Indian Test team is shaping up well. It seemed we were more settled in T20 and ODI but now our team had a good batting experience. If you notice, for the last 2 and a half years, we had the same batting unit, barring one or two changes. So you learn a lot. Test remains the ultimate format. On top of it, one plus point is that all our fast bowlers are fit now and the way they are bowling. We have 10 proper fast bowlers and it’s an asset. Now we will be playing a lot of matches, so we can rotate our fast bowlers if we want to.
“As far as performance is concerned, the talent and experience of the team has started to get reflected in the performance and in the times to come, this season we will be playing 13 Tests and I think by the end of it if everything goes well, touchwood, we will be the number one team in the world and the gap between the first and second team will be substantial.”
On Indian bowlers’ improved show in second T20
“I don’t think the wicket changed a lot. It is same as the last wicket. It is the exposure that they had in the last game, it gave them the ability to go back and think about their own game plan and often when there is no break between two matches, it actually helps the bowlers to quickly go back and plan. It is the execution that matters and I think it was great. Addition of a spinner also paid off well. Mishra bowled really well. I felt it was the whole bowling unit who could restrict them to 140, it was a brilliant effort.
On takeaways from the short T20 series
“There is plenty to take away. The way we made 244-odd and came close in the last game was a difficult one. The reason being once you have so many runs to chase, it puts you under pressure to score right from the start and the batsmen did it pretty well. When it comes to bowling, the first game was tough for the bowlers but the way they came back in the second game, it was fantastic, it showed a lot about the character of the bowling unit. We have a more experienced unit. They have played a lot of Test cricket and also have the experience of playing at IPL and shorter format.
“As a unit, the bowlers are looking good. As a batting unit, it was slightly different from the World T20 team, it was a chance for a few youngsters to come and grab the opportunities. The biggest was the way Rahul batted yesterday. Of course, the result didn’t go in our favour but overall a lot of positives.
“The concern for me was the fact that quickly we have to adapt to the shorter format and most of the guys were playing Test match before this so the transformation had to be great and I think all the team members responded well to that.”
On the venue and the American experiment
“This is a good journey not only for India but also West Indies, they are closer from here. We can always come back and play a series. Unfortunately, today there was thunderstorm but otherwise the weather was good. It suits cricket. Overall, when you play cricket, one is player’s passion and the other thing is host broadcaster, they want to make money, the fans want to come and watch live cricket. Overall it seemed a good product.
“The timing suits broadcaster. It is good for the fans. Overall it is a win-win scenario. But it will cramp our schedule but I don’t think many players will complain, we are used to it. If it becomes too busy, some players may opt out but as far as the other things are concerned, if it fills in all the gaps then I think it is a good venue and we would like to comeback and play cricket.”