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Monday, 2 December 2013

Look Forward to Exciting Series in South Africa: MS Dhoni

After a successful run at home in 2013, and having tasted success abroad as well, India are set to take on South Africa in three ODIs and two Tests. (Also Read: India Squad for South Africa Series 2013)
While speaking to the media before heading to SA, India captain MS Dhoni said, “As far as the India-South Africa series is concerned, both teams are well positioned. In ODIs we have done well and they have done well in Tests, so I think it will be a good contest. Because the ODIs are before the Tests, it will give us a little bit of time to adjust. Overall, I think it will be an exciting series and there are exciting players in both sides; it looks like it will be an interesting series.”
Discussing his fairly young team in the post-Sachin Tendulkar era, he said, “There is always a new start. I think it is fairly important that they have good amount of exposure. The ODIs are outside India. That always helps you adjust to the pace and bounce of the wicket. When you go into a new place, (it’s important) how quickly you adjust. So I think it will be a new challenge for all of them. It is a learning curve. It’s the first time that they will be going there and they will learn a lot in the series.”
Speaking about the pressures, the India skipper reflected, “Pressure goes hand-in-hand with the Indian cricket team and it doesn’t matter whether you are playing in India or abroad. We are going through a good patch, and we are doing well, so we will take that confidence forward.”
“South Africa is a very good team, they are well-balanced in both ODIs and Test matches. They have a genuine all-rounder in their team because of which their strength increases. It is going to be a very exciting series,” he added.
A young side also has a few challenges to overcome, especially while playing in foreign conditions. “I think it is always a challenge when you go and play abroad. You are competing against the home team and they know the conditions well. Their fast bowlers always know which length to bowl and also the areas in which they need to bowl. I feel the batsmen will have to quickly adjust to the bounce, see the deliveries which they can leave and push the bowlers to bowl at them instead of going after the bowlers. So I think it will be a key factor,” he explained.
“But of course starting with the ODIs it is always a help; when you get to play the shots, you get rid of the nerve factor initially. We are playing three ODIs initially. The guys will be expressing themselves, they will be playing shots and then they will be carrying it forward into the Test matches as well. The good thing is that there won’t be too many changes when you compare the Test squad to the ODI squad,” Dhoni added.
India’s death bowling has been perceived as an area of weakness. When asked if that was a worrying factor, Dhoni mentioned, “Look at our Champions Trophy performance and then compare the death bowling, you will see a completely different scenario. (…) Different conditions will have different stats, but we have to see that there will be pace and bounce on offer for the fast bowlers. They can use bouncers along with the yorkers. We will see how it goes. We saw in the last two matches our death bowling improved a lot, but there are definitely some areas where we are trying to improve more and not give too many runs in the last 10 overs.”
Speaking about his team and the criticism they come under, especially when compared to former great players, Dhoni said, “If you don’t perform, you will be criticised. I think they need to keep in mind what’s really in their hand and prepare accordingly for the Test and ODI series. Also, concentrate on what little things they need to do so that they’re successful.”
“Good exposure (is also important). At the same time, a few of them have played there before – may not be international games, but the India A tours that have played will also help. Overall, if you see somebody like a Shikhar Dhawan, who may not have played (for Team India) there, I don’t know. But he has got experience of playing outside India. He has been part of A tours quite a few times and has exposure of playing on good wickets where there is something on offer for fast bowlers,” he elaborated.
Asked about the composition of the side, Dhoni said that is something that will be decided there itself. “We have to see the strength of our batting line-up. And at the same time (we need to see) whether our four bowlers are good enough to get the opposition out. It is something that we have to weigh out. In the last Test match also we played with four bowlers and Rohit Sharma batted at No.6. At times five batsmen are not enough, or even six are not enough. And if you see the last two Test matches the No.6 batsman has had a lot of impact on the game. We will weigh how it is and then decide as to whether the 3-1 combination is good enough or we have to play with 3-2.”
When asked how the team composition is decided, Dhoni responded, “What we try and do is make it very simple. If somebody is doing well in the domestic circuit and is consistent, he should be given an opportunity. It’s not for us to decide whether he is good enough or not. (...) Principally, this has really helped me, but of course often you feel if somebody is more talented than others, you try to give him an opportunity before some of the other players.”
“Overall and principally, it is important that we are not here to judge whether somebody is good or not. We are here to give opportunities and the person himself has to decide whether he is good enough or needs to do more work.”
Asked about the No.4 position left vacant by Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni said, “There is no replacing anyone. He brings his own character into the side, whoever is going to bat at No.4. As of now we are not decided. There is hardly any break for us to decide who will bat at No.4. But again, every slot, especially when talking about Test cricket, is an important slot. (…) Overall, we don’t know who will be batting at No.4, but there is no replacing the individual.”
Speaking about the team’s preparation, he told the media, “I don’t know if it’s enough or not but this is the only time we had. We will try to have long practice sessions in the first one or two days that we have with us. We will have one light session before the match and that is how we will get ready for the ODIs.”


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