We have to be at our best from now on: Dhoni

Updated: Mar 12, 2011, 09:40 AM IST

Nagpur: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni says his team has to raise its intensity in the remaining two World Cup Group B games against South Africa and the West Indies to carry the momentum into the quarterfinals.

Dhoni said it will be a “fresh start” for them in the competition when they play South Africa Saturday as from here on everything they do will have a bearing on the matches in the knockout stage.

“It is a big game for us,” Dhoni said at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Jamtha.

“The good thing is that we have already qualified for the quarterfinals. Now we have two big games which will give us the momentum. We have to play well as it is a fresh start and the intensity will go up. You have to be at your best from now on,” he said.

India have beaten Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands and tied with England, but there are still grey areas which need to be addressed in the game against the Proteas.

“We batted first, we chased scores and we have played on good wickets and on slow tracks. So in the last four games we got the exposure we need, going into the next phase, to peak at the right time.”

“We have showed signs of improvement on the field and it is a big positive and hopefully as the tournament progresses we should improve a lot.”

Dhoni said the wicket at Jamtha offers some assistance to fast bowlers and they will take that into account while deciding the eleven.

“Playing an extra seamer will be given a thought. This wicket has a bit more bounce compared to other Indian tracks. We may not see some extraordinary movement but a little bit with the new ball. As the game progresses, we have seen that there is turn also. We will also look how dry the pitch is and decide accordingly.”

Dhoni defended his decision of persisting with leg-spinner Piyush Chawla in all the four matches and not trying out off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

“I felt he (Chawla) should play against Ireland because he needed the confidence. He is young and is coming back to the side after a long time. It is more of a mental battle.”

“What I have seen of (Ravichandran) Aswhin, having led him in the Chennai Super Kings, is that he is a mentally tough. He works a lot on his bowling and on his variation.”

About a rusty Habhajan Singh, Dhoni said he is fulfilling the role assigned to him.

“He is experienced and he knows that he is an important player. It is not possible to take three or four wickets in every match. The batsmen are not willing to take risks against him. But he is doing his job. He is breaking the momentum. He has stopped the opposition from scoring runs and it helps the bowlers at the other end. As long as he is fulfilling his role I’m not worried about who is getting wickets and who is stopping the opposition from scoring runs.”