Indian captain admits team has room for improvement before ICC World T20 kicks off
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir watch the team's practice session.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has often sought to put a positive spin on things, so it was a change from the norm to hear India’s captain admit openly that his team’s bowling was a cause for concern going into the ICC World Twenty20 2012.
“The bowling has always been a bit of a concern,” said Dhoni at the NCC ground on Tuesday (September 18) afternoon, during an optional practice session from which, ironically, the bowling quartet of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Lakshmipathi Balaji and R Ashwin, as well as Virender Sehwag, were missing.
“If you compare our batting to our bowling, we find the bowling is slightly weaker but we have experienced bowlers who can do the needful," said Dhoni. "We are looking to play with seven batsmen to start off the tournament. It means the part-timers will have to do a really good job so that we can sustain with those seven batsmen. As the tournament progresses, if we still find that our bowling line-up is a bit weak, we will have to go with six batters and five bowlers."
“The death bowling has been a bit of a concern. We have done well in death bowling too, but we have not been very consistent," added Dhoni. "As I said, it is a bit of a worry but the fast bowlers are putting in a bit more effort to get into the groove. In this format, if you have the variations, you can go all out and still do well. I think the bowlers will shape up well. They will try different strategies and different field settings so that it can complement their style of bowling.”
Given the obvious concerns over the bowling, Dhoni was asked for the rationale behind the team going in with just four specialists, and packing the side with seven batsmen. “It’s not like we are playing with seven batsmen only now,” said Dhoni. “In the last 50-55 years, if not more, we have done that. There have been instances in between where we played with six batsmen in the 50-over format. There are quite a few players in our line-up who like to go and express themselves. They may take the bowlers on right from the very first or second delivery, which means they would like to have the cushion of that extra batsman. But if the batsmen keep putting up scores consistently on the board, then we may look at playing five specialist bowlers.”
Afghanistan are India’s first opponents in a group that also includes England, the defending champion.“We played Afghanistan in the last ICC World Twenty20 too,” said Dhoni. “I don’t think they are a very different side now. We are rating them as any other side in international cricket, and we are not taking them lightly. This is a format where anyone can beat any other side in the world so it is important to be focussed, not be overconfident and get the most out of the game.”