Dhoni hits back at Aus talk of aggression, says old stuff
Ahmedabad: Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday hit back at the Australians for talking about playing aggressive cricket with shot-pitched stuff in the World Cup quarterfinal, saying his side will not be flustered by such tactics as they have beaten them even in their own den in the past.
Dhoni said the talks of Australian aggression were not new to his team and they will play the "Indian way" which had seen his side beat them in their own backyard.
"We would play the Indian way, playing normal cricket. People have been talking much about the short-pitched balls, but this is nothing new to us. Australia have good fast bowlers, but not to forget we have won Test matches in Perth and Durban (considered to possess the fastest tracks in world cricket)," Dhoni told reporters at the match-eve press conference here.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting had asked his players to play in "Australian way" of unbridled aggression in the make-or-break quarterfinal tomorrow while fast bowler Mitchell Johnson said they would bombard Indian batsmen with short-pitched deliveries.
Dhoni also refused to see Thursday`s match as a final before the final as has been done by Australian coach Tim Nielsen. "It`s an important game for us. I won`t give it any category as a pre-final or something. You have to win it irrespective of the opposition. The mental element is very important. At the same time you have to rely on your skills because ultimately it has to reflect on the field. Mentally you have to be in a very good frame of mind to execute your plans," he said.
The Indian skipper said his side can ill-afford a batting collapse, which they had encountered in league matches, against a strong side like Australia and they need to slow down in the batting powerplay to bat out the full quota of 50 overs if too many wickets are falling at that stage. "In all the games we wanted to accelerate and that is one of the main reasons why we lost a number of wickets (in a heap). The way out is while you need to accelerate to get as many runs as possible, once you have lost those 2-3 wickets you need to curb your instinct and bat 50 overs. Instead of aiming to get 40 runs (in this phase) you should look to get 20-25 runs which could really count at the end of the game," said Dhoni.
"Our batting has been good, especially the top order which means lower order has batted when the team was looking to accelerate. We have not been able to capitalize in the slog overs and second (batting) Power Play as well at the same time. Hopefully in the next game we would be able to accumulate more runs," Dhoni said.
India had lost wickets in a heap during the latter phase of their batting in three out of six league games. They lost seven wickets in a cluster against England in the tied match, a staggering nine for just 29 against South Africa in the game they lost and seven for 50 against the West Indies in their last league tie which they won.
In all three games India failed to bat out their full quota of 50 overs. Dhoni ruled out the possibility of playing all his three front-line spinners Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and Piyush Chawla, as advised by former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram. "That will be very tough," he said.
Dhoni requested the media not to put extra pressure on Sachin Tendulkar, who is one century short of completing a century of centuries in international cricket. "We had lot of trouble when he was one short of his 50th Test century. I would request you to leave him alone and have the discussion (on the expected feat) after the match (after he achieves the landmark)," he said.
The Indian skipper praised senior paceman Zaheer Khan for the important breakthroughs he has provided the team with. "We have relied on him a lot to get those breakthroughs. He has always responded well. So responsibility is with all the players, but at the same time with Zaheer giving us those breakthroughs we don`t mind it. Also we have been able to capitalize on his breakthroughs, that`s a big positive for us," said Dhoni.
He conceded that the Indian players are always under pressure to perform. "When you are part of the Indian cricket team, irrespective of being a bowler or a batsman you are under pressure. You can`t think too much about it. I always say think of it as an added responsibility", he said. "It`s the bowler who is under more pressure than the batsman. If you had batted first and scored over 300 runs it`s the bowler who will have to defend it," Dhoni said.
Asked about the India-Australia rivalry, Dhoni said many positives have come out of the intensity of the contests. "Over the last 2-3 years the India-Australia bilateral series has seen more intensity from the players and big positives have come out of it for both teams," he said. On coach Gary Kirsten`s role in the team, Dhoni said, "He`s a fantastic gentleman to be associated with the team; the kind of character he has and the way he`s managed the dressing room and not to forget the 15 members who are part of the squad, all of them are big superstars and have big following in India."
"The way he has managed each individual, he has done a wonderful job. It reflects as to how well we have done on the field," he added.