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Cricket World Cup: Winning run team effort, says MS Dhoni

Melbourne: Hailing India's transformation from a struggling side to red-hot favourites to defend the cricket World Cup title, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Thursday attributed the brilliant seven-match unbeaten run to team effort and fixing "small things right".

"It has been good, we can't shy away from the fact that we are playing some good cricket. But at the same time a month back we were struggling. A lot of credit needs to go to the boys and the support staff," Dhoni said after India thrashed Bangladesh by 109 runs to enter the semifinals.

Dhoni could not pinpoint any particular reason for the sudden transformation from a struggling side last month to a firm unit, which is on track to the defend the title.

"It's difficult to pinpoint how it changed. Not many players form our side are in the top run-scorers list, but the batting has performed. Bowling team out was an area we wanted to improve. Even in New Zealand and South Africa (before the World Cup), we were struggling with that, but now we are doing much better," said Dhoni with a broad smile at the post-match presentation.

"Just like a batsman out of form gets back into form, cricket has a lot of abstracts, but we need to do a lot of the small things right. Put in the intensity and hope it all turns out," he added.

Asked about the brilliant diving effort to his left to dismiss Soumya Sarkar off Mohammed Shami in the 21st over, Dhoni joked it was a "fluke" before describing it as a satisfying moment.

"Fluke happens," Dhoni said with a smile.

"It was an important catch, a decent partnership was going and I just dived. I thought it was a bit away from me, I dived and the ball came and sat in my hands. It was a satisfying moment," said the captain.

Asked about his thoughts of teams scoring 300-plus totals these days, Dhoni said, "A lot of it is because of fifth fielder being inside and T20 influence and with teams keeping wickets in hand, it helps. If the wicket is dry, some reverse swing happens. But if it's a flat wicket, 300 is something most teams will score."

Man-of-the-match Rohit Sharma, who cracked a 126-ball 137, described today's hundred one of his best tons in his career.

"I think it will be right up there (on top)," he said when asked to rate his century today.

"It was a very important knock from team point of view where the team needed it the most. I think the partnership with (Suresh) Raina was very crucial. He changed the momentum of the game and allowed me to pace my innings. I was determined, I wanted to bat as long as possible and put the team into a good situation," Rohit said.

"Batting at the top of the order, it's important to get big hundreds and I want to make the most of it when I go out to bat and I'm happy with the way it turned out," he added.

Rohit said it was just a matter of carrying the winning momentum in the next two matches for India to defend the title.

"We played as a team. Bowlers are taking wickets, batsmen are scoring runs, we just need to take this momentum into the semis. We've talked a lot about momentum and how big a part it plays in big tournaments. We have two more games to go. We just need to do what we're doing, we're creating big partnerships with the bat and the bowlers are working in tandem as well," said the 27-year-old opening batsman.

Talking about his 122-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Raina (65), Rohit said, "I think the key to our partnership was that we did not play any stupid shot. It was not easy out there so we waited for the ball and once the ball went in the gap it was four. The outfield was really quick."

Against Bangladesh today, Rohit took time to settle down before playing some exquisite shots to race to a big score and he said Australian pitches suited his style of batting.

"The wickets in Australia especially MCG suits me. One you are settle down, Australia is the best place for batting.

"Everything is coming along nicely for us. Our bowling coach Bharat Arun is working very hard with the pacers and the results are for everyone to see. There is a lot of emphasises on fielding as well," said Rohit.

Raina was all praise for Rohit whom he described as a big match player.

"It is always exciting to bat with Rohit. He is a big match player and he showed it today. It also shows that he is taking the responsibility. I think the game starts from batting powerplay and goes to last 10 overs. It was important to do well in that stage," Raina said.

"We are not thinking who is going to be our semifinal opponents. We are just going to enjoy for the night," he said.

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said that 300-plus target was a tough one to chase.

"300 is difficult to chase, but 280 could have been better. We would also have batted first as well if we won the toss. But can't control that. Rubel and Shakib were bowling well in the beginning, but we couldn't get through," he said.

"But except today, our fans here and back home should be happy. Most of our players are just starting their careers and they should be very happy with their efforts and the fans should be happy as well," Mashrafe said.

"I hope, the way we are performing at the moment, we don't have the experience yet, but once we go back home, we know how to play and hopefully this year is exciting for us."  

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