India mull on choice of fourth bowler for WC final
Mumbai: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in a dilemma over the choice of a fourth bowler for Saturday’s World Cup summit clash against Sri Lanka and said the team management is still undecided on whether to go with a spinner or a seamer.
With swing bowler Ashish Nehra virtually ruled out of Saturday`s grand finale due to a multiple finger fracture he suffered in the semifinal clash against Pakistan, the toss up could be between pacer S Sreesanth and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
"Ashish is most likely ruled out he`s got multiple fracture on one of his fingers," said Dhoni, adding that the choice could be between Sreesanth and Ashwin. "If you see the Mumbai track there`s a bit of pace and bounce for the seamers initially and there is a bit of reverse swing going. The third seamer can have an impact on the game. An extra seamer means I am able to maneuver the bowlers," Dhoni said at the pre-match press conference.
"With a spinner, if you have three spinners along with a part-timer you don`t have room for maneuver. But whatever opportunity Ashwin has got irrespective of where he has fared he has done really well. We have confidence in him but we are not clear about whether to go with three seamers or two seamers and one extra spinner," he said.
Sreesanth had not played after the tournament opener on February 19 against Bangladesh at Mirpur, and asked how he can slip into his groove after such a lengthy absence from the middle, Dhoni said it can be done if one looked at Saturday’s final as just another game.
"Don`t look at it as the final but as another game. Sree has done well for us most of the games he has played, he has done well. He`s one character who can definitely swing the ball and get you early wickets. Choosing one individual over other is difficult but let`s hope whoever gets chosen will perform at his best," he said.
"Unfortunately, we have not been able to give him more chances to play. Even in the first game, he played I thought he did not bowl badly. After that we gave chances to other individuals which I think were needed at that point of time. It`s more about who suits the condition more. Let`s hope whoever plays just performs," said Dhoni.
Asked about Sreesanth`s on-field antics, Dhoni said, "The only person who can control Sreesanth is Sreesanth himself. It`s beyond my control. He`s a player who gets excited when it comes to big games. If he`s playing he will be in a good frame of mind."
Dhoni conceded that the team was a bit drained after the semifinal victory against Pakistan at Mohali but was happy there was only a short gap between that emotion-charged match and Saturday`s final. "It was a big game, India-Pakistan game is always big and when you see the guest list there`s further pressure on you. There`s pressure on individual when you are playing Pakistan. Of course we were quite drained after the semifinal. But the next two days we had utilized to the best way we could have. Hopefully it will help us give off our best in the final," Dhoni said.
"One good thing is we did not have a long wait between the semifinal and final. Yesterday we were traveling and today we had practice. That helps in not looking too much into the future and be in the present. We are in the present and preparing for the big game because you want to do well in a tournament being held in India. You never know when you will get an opportunity to again play in a World Cup held in the sub continent," he said.
Dhoni said the format of the tournament has helped the Indians build up momentum and peak for the most important clash tomorrow at the right time.
"We slowly gained momentum which is very important because if you are too focused and intense from the start it becomes difficult to keep that intensity going for 40 days I think the format of the tournament gave us time to get into the groove of being at our best. We peaked at the right time and continued that peak the format gave those extra moments to grow with the tournament," he said.
He said the shuffling of the bowlers has been working well for the team. "It`s important you rotate you bowlers you don`t follow a fixed plan. At times you can surprise the opposition by rotating the bowlers. Rotation is very important as each and everyone share that responsibility. The Individuals have responded well to the bowling changes," said the Indian captain.
Dhoni issued a veiled warning on the Sri Lankans by saying that the home team has not played to its fullest potential. "There is plenty to come. Still we have done quite well in the tournament. We have won one game with quite a few runs in pocket and another with quite a few wickets. If we do everything we can it will be very interesting (match)," he said.
"You want to end the tournament on a good note. You may have put in 200 per cent effort throughout the course of tournament but we all know full stop does not come sentence is not complete, we all know it. How well we need to prepare we know our strengths and weaknesses and what we need to do on the field. It`s a big game for all of us. Irrespective of what the result is I am proud of the team I have," he added. In a lighter vein, Dhoni said retiring Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who is carrying a knee injury, will play even on one leg if it comes to that.
"As far as Muralitharan is concerned he`s a very special individual and was part of the Chennai Super Kings (IPL franchise) for the last three years. He`s a very good character to have in the dressing room and equally good opponent. He plays fair cricket, he believes himself and he`s a great entertainment on the field. I think he will definitely play the game unless he is on one leg," Dhoni said.
Dhoni said though it was coach Gary Kirsten`s last match as India coach, the team was focusing on the game and not what comes later.
"Everyone wants to do well in this game including Gary. It`s about the present, we all know what Gary has done to the team, how he has changed Indian cricket, the dressing room atmosphere and the effort he has put it. We will think about it later. First things first, it`s the final tomorrow," he said.
He said that tomorrow`s being the final, the team winning the toss would like to bat first and put up a score to defend. "It`s a big game, being the final. More often than not most teams would love to bat first, put runs on board and put pressure on the opposition. I feel that will be the only aspect.
"The wicket may become slower as the game progresses but I don`t think there will be too much of a difference apart from handling pressure which may be more in the second innings," he said.