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We leave it to the individuals to do well: Dhoni

India-Sri Lanka familiarity works both ways, says the Indian captain

We leave it to the individuals to do well: Dhoni - Cricket News
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said everyone in the team has responded well to responsibility.
When you came here there were not much expectations, but the team has done so well that everyone is saying that India is the tournament favorite. Do you think now the team would be, in terms of expectations, under some kind of pressure which was not there when you started off? 
First of all, we never have expectations of doing well over here, so we don't know who all are saying that we have to win this tournament. So I think it started by you guys and ended by you guys. We just came here to play some good cricket, and that's what we have been doing. We are working hard, and that's what is really now at hand. Every next session that we are going into we want to improve ourselves.  

The team that you're playing tomorrow is visibly different from the 2011 World Cup final that the Sri Lankan team played, and your team is also different, so how do you look at this semi-final, and do you think that World Cup final, you can take it as a reference point somewhere? 
Well, not really because even if both the teams were the same, they have been a significant amount of changes that have been made to the format, quite a few rules and regulations. So I don't think we can really count on all those stats. So I think it's very different, and also the fact that both the teams are looking very different. It means both the teams are good. I think Sri Lanka, they are a really good squad. They are going through a phase where they are missing some of their players.  So I think it's important for both the teams to do well, and I think they're a very good team.  

Again, India's transformation as a side has a lot to do with Champions Trophy, where like the third Champions Trophy in Kenya, Ganguly was the captain, Zaheer came in, Yuvraj came in, Sehwag was  --  You saw a great transformation at the side and you were almost there in 2002 World Cup. You were also leading a team last Champions Trophy, a lot of young boys. What is the role you have played as a captain? That's my first question, and what is the roadmap towards 2015 World Cup? 
I think 2015 is too far away. We'll have to see how the guys shape up. All of them are quite young, so very good chances that most of them will feature in the 2015 World Cup, provided fitness and form are two things. And as far as the transition is concerned, I think the players have taken up the responsibility really well in both the cases. You may spot a few talents, but ultimately it is up to the individuals to do well. You can tell them about international cricket, how they need to prepare and all the stuff, but at the end of the day when they have the ball in their hand and bat in their hand they're the persons who have to do well at the individual level. So I think in both the cases the individuals have taken the responsibility really well, but I'm a bit worried if this is the last Champions Trophy maybe Indian cricket won't see any transition, because we won't have a Champions Trophy to go through (laughter). I keep it very simple, and that has been the case.  

Before the tournament you had talked about the new rules and India playing with the new rules away from home. Are you satisfied with the way the team has done? And two, Sri Lanka, you know all the players very well. Is there any possibility of bringing in an element of surprise? 
From our side or from their side?  

Everybody, everybody. 
From our side, if there's an element of surprise then it will surprise us more than it will surprise our opponent. I think what we have seen in Champions Trophy is if you see a full game where the opposition, they get off to a good start and they have wickets in hand, that looks completely different to some of the other games where the opposition, they have lost quite a few number of wickets in the first 10 overs. I think still, this change of rules has not shown their entire colour. Still we are seeing what all can happen in cricket, the uncertainty aspect.  But we have seen runs, the opposition have gone on for a good start. They got off to a good start, they have wickets in hand, and from the 35th over onwards, the bowlers feel the pressure of that extra fielder inside. Some of them have done it well, but most of them under that situation, they have struggled a bit. But as is the case, it's always the bowlers who adapt better to the changes of the rules compared to the batsmen.  

You've worked with a lot of coaches over the years. What influence has Duncan Fletcher had on this team particularly? 
Well, Duncan is someone who knows the basics of cricket really well. The small, very little things that he can spot right at the start is something that's very crucial for all the youngsters, and it's a key for us, also. And also the fact now he's under less pressure. When he came in we were going through a phase where some of the senior cricketers that we had, they left us. And also the fact that we were at the top of what we could have done in cricket at that point of time. So he is always someone who would have felt the pressure; to maintain that kind of performance is very difficult. But I think he's loving the fact now that the team has started to do well and also there are lots of youngsters on the side who he needs to guide. So I think overall he's done really well with us, and I am just very happy for him that we are going through a phase where we are doing well for him.  

Basically Sri Lanka depend heavily on Jayawardene and Sangakkara. What would be your approach because they are the key? 
I think they are a dangerous side, so we shouldn't just concentrate on two individuals. I think overall if you see their first seven batsmen all of them are very dangerous, so I think we'll concentrate on all of them rather than thinking about the two individuals. But yes, they are someone who have done really well for Sri Lanka, very well they have played, so we have to be aware of the fact, but still we need to prepare also for the whole team.    

It seems like India and Sri Lanka have played each other in most venues around the world and we've played each other a lot the last couple of years.  Does that make it easier or harder when you play against a team so much? 
Well, I think it works the same for both the sides. If we say we find it easier, then it would be the same for Sri Lanka. It's just that, yes, we play quite often; either we go to Sri Lanka or they come to India, and we have Asia Cup, also, where the teams keep on playing against each other. I think it gives a basic idea of what the strengths and weaknesses of each and every individual is as far as the bowlers are concerned or the batsmen, they are concerned. I think it helps both the sides to prepare themselves really well, and you can cut off those extra 15 minutes of time that you spend in a team meeting and keep it very small.  

Last year when you were in Australia you were attempting to make some changes in the playing eleven and get some youngsters in to have a positive impact on the fielding. You were criticized then but you were patient.  Now everybody is praising you for exactly the same thing. How do you react to both criticism then and appreciation now? 
I think it's important not to react because that's what people are looking for. You have to be honest to yourself as to what needs to be done when it comes to looking into the future and making a good team because fielding I feel is very important, especially nowadays. If you can, the opposition is scoring 250‑odd runs, and if you have saved those 15 or 20 runs, it can have a big impact on the game. This was one aspect which was quite missing when it came to Indian cricket. For us it was more about the batting and the bowling aspect, which meant the skill of fielding was slightly missing. We still had good fielders, but the problem is when you don't have too many good fielders, you can't use them at too many places, and also you have to keep switching them, especially in the last few overs. So I think it has helped us that those two or three individuals don't need to go from deep mid wicket to deep mid wicket or long off to long off. Just that a bunch of players are really good fielders, it actually helps me. You don't have to bring in the guy that's fielding at deep point just because you need a slip fielder. Most of them, they can field at slips, also. So I think it overall helps, the over rate, we have been able to maintain the over rate, too, so it helps overall in every aspect.  

Do you believe that one of the reasons India have dominated Sri Lanka in recent times is the way the Indian batsmen have handled Lasith Malinga? Of all the international sides, he has got the worst record against India. 
I think it also has to do with the fact that we play amongst each other a lot, so we see a lot of Malinga, we understand him better, we play him in the subcontinental conditions where he gets a lot of reversing where he is one of the most difficult bowlers to face. Also I feel we get to see him. So I think it's all these small, small things that has really made that kind of an impact, and most of the batsmen they have faced him, but still, he's one of the most difficult bowlers to score off freely, especially in the shorter format.  

I know you know England are going very well at the moment as we speak. I know the job is not done yet, but if you were to face England in the final in their home conditions, how highly do you rate England? How big a challenge do you think that will be with them in their home conditions? 
Well, I'm worried about tomorrow. I don't think too much far ahead, but as it comes. I will just repeat myself; we don't really worry about things that are not in our control, so the thing is to perform very well tomorrow.  

After IPL and T20 tournaments, we have seen some high‑scoring matches here, but what we are seeing until now is low‑scoring or moderate‑scoring matches. What do you think the reason is?  Is it the playing conditions or the new rules? 
I think it's a mixture of both. As I said, if the teams that have got off to a good start and played well in the middle overs, they've always scored par plus score. Also what we need to realize is often we say, okay, that fifth fielder inside and it's a bit difficult for the bowlers to contain, but if there's pressure in the batsmen, then the batsmen may find it slightly difficult to rotate. So it's a mix of both, but also the condition, I feel it has not been brilliant English summer. The last two days in Cardiff has been brilliant, but it has been quite cold. So maybe it's just that the condition in the batsmen, they are finding it difficult to freely rotate even if they get off to a good start, so that can be a reason. Some of the experts are saying the new lot of balls is not swinging so they're waiting for the next lot of balls and see how much they swing because certainly they are not seeing the same amount of movement, but you don't need to move a lot, it's just those two, two and a half inches that really matter.  

The team has done really well, but any particular loose ends that you're looking to tie up before tomorrow's game, like Ishant went for a few runs like in the last game? Anything on that front? And the second thing is you as a captain, how much do you see your responsibility increasing when you have to look at so many things other than just what is happening out there on the field, like probably you have the new rules to take care of, probably even the Duckworth‑Lewis comes in you have to figure out what the consequences are going to be, and with the new powerplay rules and everything. What kind of a difference does it make to the responsibility that you have? 
I think having the good support staff really helps an individual in that because there are lots of things that can be omitted if you have support staff, and thankfully we have got people who are very experienced here. Duncan is there, Trevor Penney is there, Joey is doing well with the bowlers, so it's actually helping so I can concentrate more on the individuals what they need to do and where they need to move as far as international cricket is concerned. Of course the technical aspects come from Duncan. So I think that has really helped us. I'm just worried about the things that need to go on well inside the dressing room and on the field, and the rest can be taken care of by the support staff. So I think sharing of responsibility, that really helps anyone and everyone, and as far as my case is concerned, I think the support staff there have really helped me.  

And the first question? 
Well, you'll see in each and every game there will be a few bowlers that will go for us, but we'll have to see what's the strength, what the strength we are really looking for against a particular opposition. Ishant is someone who gets a decent amount of bounce, who is tall and can have a big impact, especially in the middle overs once the ball gets slightly old. I think on and off each and every one will have a few games where they'll go for runs. Umesh had a bad game, then Ishant had a bad game. So I think it's important to keep backing the guys and also the fact that they learn a lot out of these games.   

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