We stepped up intensity in the warm-up games: Dhoni

Chennai: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni expressed happiness that his side stepped up the intensity in the second warm-up game on Wednesday and praised the team for the collective effort to crush New Zealand by 117 runs.

“In the first game (against Australia on February 12), we were not with intensity. Since this was the last game before the World Cup we wanted the intensity to be there,” Dhoni said after India’s second and final World Cup warm-up match.

“Last time also, we won two games quite convincingly. What is more important is to get the most out of the game. The batsmen did a good job. Gautam Gambhir batted well along with Virat Kohli and they provided the platform for the big hitters to come and look to play their shots later on,” he said.

“This was one of the wickets difficult to rotate the strike. But when you look to slog the bowler it was easy to clear the field because the ball was stopping on and it was there to hit. Overall it was a very good effort. Spinners again bowled very well. Seamers also to some extent did their job,” he added.

On the composition of the team for the World Cup, Dhoni said it will depend on the conditions and the pitch.

“Going with extra seamer or spinner will be decided based on our assessment of the wicket. This being a practice game we could try all of them. We were able to test all spinners. All of them did well along with Yuvraj Singh. That gives us options.”

“Right from Dambulla series, we never had the platform to slog. This was one game after a long time we got a good start capitalised on it and later on slogged. We should look to get a good platform from where batsmen can launch. Good starts will be crucial for us,” he said.

Ross Taylor, who captained the new Zealand side on Wednesday in the absence of Daniel Vettori, agreed that chasing such a big target (of 361) was always a tough job.

“Our spinners are not known as big turners. We yielded big runs to the Indians to pile up 360. When you are chasing seven or eight a over, it is always tough for the boys. But we need to find the ways to score runs quickly and also find the boundary options.”

“Hopefully, we can improved our performance in the World Cup. When chasing that big a total, you could hit balls for singles and twos, you got to get runs by boundaries. You need to do that otherwise you get eliminated,” he said.

On the positives ahead of the World Cup, Taylor said, “Sometime we go well. On Wednesday we gave too many runs on this wicket. We were playing second innings for first time in the two warm-up matches. We had a good start by both Brendon (McCullum) and Martin (Guptill) but we need to get more for a good start. We need to do that quite often to get big totals.”

Asked if India’s performance on Wednesday should put them as firm favourites to win the World Cup, Taylor said, “They have got to be favourites on home conditions. They are very well balanced side. Spinners are going to be the key in the tournament and they have some good spinners in Harbhajan and Ashwin and the part-time spin bowlers also very good at their job.”

As for the MA Chidambaram pitch, Taylor said, “We lost by hundred and odd runs but may be if we were chasing 320 or so, we could have got few more runs on board. The wicket was not played very well and we need to understand the wicket better.”

Asked about the road ahead to the World Cup proper, Taylor said, “It needs a complete performance from the team. We need to bat, bowl and field well. At the moment we are not doing all the facets as we would like. I still have the confidence in the team and we can get the performances we want.”

“On Sunday (against Kenya) we need to start and gain some momentum. Obviously we lost some tonight but as we go on, we need to make the quarterfinals and then make the final of the World Cup. Hopefully we get into form,” he said.