Getting the playing combination right, dealing with the worries of the team’s bowling at the ‘death’ or creating opportunities for the batsmen to bat up the order are some of the challenges that confront Mahendra Singh Dhoni ahead of the upcoming World Twenty20.
Add to it, the question pertaining to his retirement plans. Clearly, Dhoni has respite from those seeking answers.
After India raced away to a thumping 69-run series-levelling victory over Sri Lanka here on Friday, the Indian skipper mixed purpose and humour in good measure as he spoke his mind to the mediapersons.
With the World Twenty20 being the goal, Dhoni indicated that he was open to experimentation.
“When it comes to bowling, everyone will get a chance to bowl. What happens with batting is that you want to win games and you also want to give an individual a fair amount of time in the middle. It does not always go with the plan. Definitely in the coming games, there is a chance of giving someone this kind of an exposure so that, going into the World Twenty20, they know what their roles and responsibilities are.”
About Hardik Pandya being sent ahead of Yuvraj Singh on Friday night, Dhoni said, “This is what Pandya is known for. He can go in and play the big shots straightaway. So in the coming games, whenever we give some opportunity, we would like to give every player some kind of batting.
Difficult to slot Yuvraj higher than No. 5
“When a match starts, Yuvraj is slotted in at No. 5. It is difficult to get him to bat at a higher position than that. Openers, No. 3 is Virat Kohli, and No. 4 is Suresh Raina – their record in India and overseas is extraordinary so it becomes slightly difficult (to promote Yuvraj).
“I have played with Yuvi a lot. It is difficult for him to go straightaway and hit in the 17th or 18th over. He’s like a proper batsman who can hit. Whenever he bats (straightaway) in the slog, he has found it difficult. We’ll see how it goes. I will try to give him more opportunity in the upcoming games. But again we want to win games. That will also be our priority.”
About Jasprit Bumrah, Dhoni was equally positive. “The good thing with Bumrah is, he has a bit of pace. Whenever I come for a press conference, this is one topic that gets raised – about our ‘death bowling’, bowlers who can bowl yorkers. He does not have a normal action. Batsmen take time to get used to him. He is also executing his yorkers well, which is definitely a big positive.”
On the batting of Man-of-the-Match Shikhar Dhawan, Dhoni said, “The thing about Dhawan is, he’s playing proper shots. At the same time he is not trying to over-hit. The good thing with him is he is getting a boundary in the first couple of balls in the over so that he doesn’t need to take the risk later. If there is an opportunity to hit one more boundary, he is playing to his strengths.”
When asked if Friday’s match was last in India colours at his home town, Dhoni shot back in a lighter vein, “Why? Tell me one thing, am I unfit? I still run fast. Everything is all right. Why special criteria for me? People say ‘he is not hitting sixes, he should retire.’ It doesn’t happen to anyone else that people ask for a retirement because he doesn’t hit sixes! In the last couple of games, I have hit sixes. Still you are asking me about retirement. I guess the whole idea is…‘Just get him retired, get it done with’.”
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