Chennai: Two easy wins in as many warm-up games notwithstanding, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that the Indian team needs to replicate these performances in their opening ICC cricket World Cup group match against Bangladesh in Dhaka Saturday.
Speaking to the media after the 117-run win against New Zealand here Wednesday, Dhoni said that the Indian team had also achieved almost everything they wanted to as part of the preparations for the World Cup and that was the biggest gain from the two practice games.
“Against Australia, we did not show much intensity, but tonight’s game being the last match before the World Cup, our intensity was up.”
“Also, we have achieved whatever we wanted to and now, we have to replicate the effort in our first match against Bangladesh,” he said.
Dhoni, who scored a swashbuckling 108 not out, attributed his success with the bat to his approach that called for a cautious start before going for the big shots.
“In the previous games, I was pushing myself too much to score runs off every ball that I faced and was getting out in the process, but tonight, I was determined to play myself in regardless of the situation before attempting the big shots.
“But it was Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli who gave us the platform and it helped the big shot players who followed them,” he said.
Regarding the Indian bowling attack, Dhoni expressed satisfaction at the manner in which the slow bowlers, notably leggie Piyush Chawla and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin were shaping up besides the contributions by part-time left-arm spinner Yuvraj Singh.
“Chawla again bowled well and so also Ashwin. When we are playing with four bowlers, whether it is 3 (seamers)-1 (spinner) or two and two, the part-time bowler has an important role to play.”
“Yuvraj, with his left-arm spin, has been contributing a lot in recent times and that gives me more options,” Dhoni opined.
When asked about the batting slots with specific reference to the choice between Yuvraj Singh, Kohli and Suresh Raina for the two batting positions, Dhoni felt that it was not much a fight for a berth in the playing eleven as the slot.
“It is a slot war rather than a fight for a place in the eleven. As of now, Virat has been showing good form and scoring runs coming in at No.4 which I think is a very important slot. Our dilemma will be when Yuvraj also begins to score 50s.”
“Yuvraj has a lot of experience and is a match-winner. He has been contributing with his bowling too and so has a lot of value for the team.”
“If it is a choice between Raina and Kohli, then I think, Virat has an edge because he is in good form and scoring a lot of runs,” Dhoni said.
Earlier, Ross Taylor, the Kiwi middle-order batsman, all but conceded that his side was outplayed by the Indians on a pitch that held no terrors.
“I think, 500-odd runs would say that the pitch was good, but when you are chasing at seven or eight runs an over, it needs a complete team effort. We need to get boundaries off good balls,” he said.
Looking ahead, Taylor said that he was confident the team would put behind the big defeat and their first game against Kenya here Sunday presents an opportunity to regain confidence besides momentum.
“We need to erase this performance. Our game against Kenya is an opportunity for us to get some momentum. We have to win three matches to qualify for the quarter-finals and I am confident that we can achieve that,” said Taylor.
He complimented the Indian team for its balance and the powerful spin attack that he said would play a key role in the World Cup.