MS Dhoni – “”I am always worried about the bowling, especially when we go out of India, but now that we are playing only T20s for a consistent period of time, the bowling is looking settled” © Getty Images
India’s limited-overs captain MS Dhoni is pleased with the positives that have come out of the tour of Australia where the visitors lost the first four ODIs before coming back to win the final ODI and all three Twenty20 internationals. In a season where India will now play only T20 cricket till the home World T20 and the IPL, Dhoni feels he might have found a settled bowling unit, a feeling he rarely experiences, and a lot of it is down to the newcomer Jasprit Bumrah, who incidentally would not have made it to the side but for two injuries.
While Dhoni expectedly downplayed the T20 whitewash, he went out of his way to praise Bumrah. “The find [of the tour] for me was Bumrah,” Dhoni said. “The way he has bowled in the last three games was really good. What looks good is Bumrah as a potential player. He’s looking really good, and even today he bowled the yorkers well. And I’ve always said that to be successful in the shorter format you have to execute the yorkers. Whether you choose to bowl it or not is up to you, but if you don’t have that option, then definitely at some point of time, you will be under pressure.”
For once Dhoni made a bold declaration – some might say he is tempting fate – that he need not worry about about the bowling too much. “I am always worried about the bowling, especially when we go out of India, but now that we are playing only T20s for a consistent period of time, the bowling is looking settled,” Dhoni said. “I don’t have to worry about the bowling line-up. There might be one or two changes here or there: we might pick another spinner or maybe get a medium-fast bowler of a quick, but overall it has been a good set-up.”
Dhoni said it was a conscious decision to look at new bowlers after having yielded similar results by persisting with the old ones. “We wanted to try different people because we have been trying the same few individuals and getting the same result,” Dhoni said. “So it was high time we gave chances to individuals who were doing well in the domestic circuit, and to see what really they have to offer.
“And at the same time, once they play over here and go back, they at least know what are the departments they need to work on. Because there’s a lot of difference between our first-class cricket and international cricket. The gap is quite wide between them. So now at least with a few games here, a bit of practice with the Indian team and the bowling coaches, at least once they go back, they know what needs to be done. I think a lot of them will have to field really hard, they’ll have to push themselves to improve their fielding. And as far as just the talent is concerned, there were quite a few people who looked good.”
A settled bowling attack to go with a top order in prodigious form and the benefit of home conditions and crowds will make India a formidable team in the World T20. Dhoni paid tribute to the consistency of his main batsmen. “I feel that it is difficult to follow up a big performance, like a score of 100 or 80, with another big performance,” Dhoni said. “What has been good in this series is how the top order has consistently performed. It is very difficult.
“When you are scoring lots of runs you get a lot of confidence, but at the same time, there comes a time when you put that extra pressure on yourself too. You may think that the law of averages will strike at some point. But they have carried it through the whole series, they always gave us a very good start. And it was always the top order.
“If you talk about five, six, seven and the lower-down batsmen, apart from that one game [Canberra ODI], we were just doing the sweeping job of playing 10-12 deliveries, or 15 deliveries maximum. The top order did really well in this tournament for us.”
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo