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Chris Gayle is always a factor: Dhoni

Will decide on team combination based on conditions tomorrow, says India captain

Chris Gayle is always a factor: Dhoni - Cricket News
Mahendra Singh Dhoni talks to the media during an ICC Champions Trophy press conference.
The team has been playing a very refreshing round of cricket including two practice matches. Why do you think despite the controversy, the team has been playing so positively given typical English conditions? What led to this turnaround?
Well, we don't get to read any newspapers, so whatever is happening back home is happening back home. We are just really doing our practice sessions and we're doing the best we can.  

You play so much cricket against each other, with each other, so there is no, say, any special planning left to do? Do you believe in strategic planning? Do you believe in so much of team meeting and analysis and so forth? 
I think a bit of basic planning is something that's very important, but I've always believed that every individual bats in a different way depending on how the wicket is behaving, and according to the wicket, bowlers bowl differently, change of pace, bouncers or yorkers, depending on the conditions. So I think a basic game plan is something that's very necessary, and you change or adapt according to what comes your way.  

Any change of plan? 
You'll have to wait when it comes to the combination because you may say, okay, overcast conditions, let's play with four seamers, but talking about the stats, four seamers, the only stats we have got is we lose the game and the captain gets banned, so these are the two things that come out of four fastbowlers.  

Have you seen the wicket? 
It's the same wicket that was used in the last game. It has a bit of a grass covering, and it had a bit of bounce in the last game, so fast bowlers will get a bit of bounce, but since it's a used wicket it may be that the spinners get a bit more turn compared to the last game.  

How big will be the factor of Chris Gayle, and the last time India and West Indies actually played here in England, that was 30 years back, the 1983 World Cup, so a bit on that. 
That's a long time, close to when I was born – I was born in 1981 -- so I don't remember much for sure.

But the Gayle factor, it will always be there. He is one of those individuals that have a big impact on the game. It's always good to get them out early. Our fast bowlers will have a fair chance in that they'll have two new balls to get him out. Overcast condition may be a bit of help from the wicket.

Yeah, it will be an interesting game because what's important is to realize if you don't get batsmen like Chris Gayle out, most likely he'll take you out of the game.  

Watching the Pakistan match, what did you get out of it? Do you think their batting struggled a bit and are you planning to capitalize on it?
Well, we need to back our strength, how to defend teams, backing the bowler, defending. You can just get a general idea out of it, but still, it's very important to back the strengths that we have got as a team, to back our strength and work on our weakness. It's pretty simple that way.

But at the same time what it does is it helps you make that game plan quite easy because you already know how the wicket is behaving and how most of the batsmen are batting.  

Your own batting has been very impressive, and we've asked you about how you always manage to shut out the pressure about things that are happening away from the ground, so how does that happen? 
Well, I've always said being in the present really helps because it really takes off the things that's not really in your control. If you talk about what's happening right now, we are busy doing our practice session, we had a team activity yesterday, and we are quite busy doing all that stuff, because those are the things that are really in our control and will really help us improve our game. Being in the present really helps, and that's something I think most of the individuals, they need to do.  

I also wanted to ask you about the state of one‑day cricket in the world, the last Champions Trophy. Could you also talk about that, please?
Well, I think I'm a big fan of ODI cricket, the reason being it's a mix of both the formats, the Test cricket and the T20. You see both the things happening in the sense if you lose too many wickets early, you get a glimpse of Test cricket where the batsmen, they struggle, they don't want to give the wickets early and then capitalize and still go on for the slog in the last few overs. That's a general pattern.

I feel each and every format is special in its own way, but in the last few years I feel we are trying to make ODI too much into a T20 format. We should just leave it the way it is before the recent rule changes came into play. We were already seeing people scoring 300‑odd runs, and the opposition, they are able to chase that amount of runs. Too many changes can actually spoil the recipe at times, but as of now, it looks good.  

What on Umesh Adil, I just wanted to know what you think his strengths are? He gets the ball in and then also straightens, but apart from that does he swing, and what other strengths, yes please? What are the other areas he can improve to become a better bowler? 
Well, I think first of all, his strength is he's somebody who can bowl quick, and at the same time he can swing the ball. More often you will see him bowling the out swinger, and with that extra base, also, there's a bit of reverse swing, he can really explode, put the batsman on the back foot, push them on the back foot and execute his plans well. But still, he has to learn a lot. With more exposure he will turn into a thinking bowler where he'll think, okay, what needs to be done, what's the game plan as the game progresses at different stages in the game, what needs to be done. So he's looking good.

Also he was someone before he played for India, he was someone who was quite prone to injuries, so with the fitness schedule that we have got we have been able to eliminate that aspect. Still, somebody who bowls so quick, you may see him getting injured on and off. But to keep him fit for international series, especially the ODI series, can be a great help for us.  

When you say that he has to learn to bowl in different times during the match, does it mean he needs to develop new deliveries or what exactly are you looking at? 
Well, as we always speak with international cricket, it's a constant process where you improve as a cricketer. There's no cricketer who has not improved over the years that he has played. And also the very fact that the changes in the rules, for example, if you talk about the ODI format right now compared to two years back, it's entirely different. We had three powerplays if you include the first 10 overs ‑‑ into the first game, use of one new ball, now it's two, and the different field settings and everything. So it's a constant process where you have to keep up with the pace because if you don't, then you may be at the receiving end.  

You spoke about Ashwin not yet being that thinking bowler but about to play his 50th ODI. What kind of role do you think he needs to play now going forward?
Ashwin? Well, first, I don't think I said Ashwin is not a thinking bowler. What I said was he needs to keep up with the pace. You have to adapt very quickly according to the ‑‑ according to who's batting at what point in time and what his strengths are. So we have been able to see that in him, but still, he has a long way to go, like each and every bowler.

As far as Ashwin is concerned, he has been a regular part of what ODI formats we have been playing in, whether it's test cricket, ODI or the shortest format. I think he's someone who loves to take wickets, and the good thing is slowly he'll realize that with these changes in the rules and everything, you may see some of the spinners not looking for that wicket, trying to keep it tight, because most of the batsmen will try to make the most out of the spinners with that extra fielder inside, and when you keep it tight and force the batsmen to play the short, they may make a mistake; they may hit a ball that's not really there, and that's how you'll get a wicket.

That also depends on the situation, in the sense if there are lost too many wickets early, then you can put more pressure, and if the wicket is flagged they have wickets in hand. Then the second type of bowler will come in there, you'll look to save yourselves, keep it really tight, don't give them that easy opportunity and then you'll get wicket.  

Ashwin is not exactly playing the containing role.
No, as I said, different scenarios you have to bowl differently and different scenarios you have to bat differently. If I go in to bat in the 44th over I don't really have the time to see how a field delivers a hit, and it's the same with the bowlers, depending on what the condition or situation is. If the opposition gets off to a very good start, 17th over they are one wicket down, they may look to act quick, and that's the time when you have to see if it's not turning, keep it tight, don't give them too many boundaries and that will force them to play a big shot and you have more options of getting the batsmen out because the boundaries are quite big over here and the spinners get a bit of bounce.  

When we spoke to De Villiers before the Cardiff game, he said that we’ve got a lot of intelligence of India players. But the script changes the other way round. This time it looks like an in-tribe match – you, Bravo, Rohit, Pollard, Kohli, Gayle – how much love will be lost tomorrow? 
Well, I think with so many international cricketers playing in India, what has really happened is we have seen ‑‑ you don't see that ugly situation on the cricketing field where we see a few international cricketers having a go at each other. It has really mellowed down, but people, still they play hard and they play fair. I think that's something that has really changed over the years, and I think it has changed for good. Still people, they love to have a go at each other, but they know at the end of the day they'll be sharing some time with each other.

So I think it has moved for the good of cricket. 

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