Dhoni: Will think about retirement at the right time

While Dhoni played round and round with the retirement questions, he didn’t do so when asked about the presence of new faces in the squad, especially in the all-rounders’ department. Dhoni was looking forward to trying out pace-bowling all-rounders in Australia.

There are rumours that MS Dhoni might take a call after the ICC World T20 in India.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

India embarked on a tour Down Under for five ODIs to be followed by three Twenty20 internationals, which will kick off the preparations for the World Twenty20 beginning in March. While skipper M. S. Dhoni played round and round with the retirement questions, he didn’t do so when asked about the presence of new faces in the squad, especially in the all-rounders’ department.

While Rishi Dhawan has finally been rewarded for his persistent efforts on the domestic scene, Hardik Pandya’s promising outings, especially in the Indian Premier League, has forced selectors to take a note for T20 games.

Dhoni was looking forward to trying out both the pace-bowling all-rounders in Australia. “If you see most of the teams who are very consistent in performance at the international level, they have very good all-rounders. More often than not they have all-rounders who can bowl seam up which means fast bowling all-rounders, that is something we are lacking to an extent,” Dhoni said.

“Also, you have to rely slightly more on them when you are touring outside. In the sub-continent you can still rely on a spinning all-rounder and go ahead and play the game but that is not the case outside the sub-continent, at times you need the seam bowling all-rounder. It gives them the opportunity, the people who have done well in domestic circuit and who have been consistent for the last few years, they are getting a chance to see how international cricket is slightly different to first-class cricket.”

Retirement not on the cards for now

Asked whether he would retire after the World T20, Dhoni preferred to keep the cards close to his chest. “I am somebody who has always believed in the present. So you won’t get answers regarding the future that is too far ahead,” Dhoni, sporting the India blazer, told reporters here before the team’s departure to Australia for a limited overs’ series.

“As of now, the Australia series is important. After that, once we get into the T20 groove, we need to move in one direction as to what we should do as a team so we have the best chance of winning the World T20. Those are the primary concerns as of now. I have not really thought beyond that. There are a lot of things you need to think about and I don’t think this is the right time. All the energy and resources and thinking and all need to go in one direction and that is the Australia ODI series going into the T20 World Cup. It is a very important three to three and a half months.”

Agencies add: Dhoni is happy that team's premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has pulled himself out of a form slump and has become "an asset" for the Indian cricket team.

"Ashwin is a thinking cricketer. His performance went down a bit and he was criticised for doing too many things, but I am glad he has come back well and he is an asset. I have used him in all slots – from first to ten overs or in death.

Good for me he makes my job slightly easier when my fast bowlers did not do well. I have relied upon him. He's been great," Dhoni was all praise for Ashwin ahead of team's departure for the limited overs tour of Australia.

Dhoni also said outside the sub-continent, it will be a contest for one spot among the three spinning all-rounders — Ashwin, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja.

"I am glad you said conditions are different for the spinners' performance in subcontinent and outside. (Ravi) Ashwin is our premier spinner and it is good to have (Ravindra) Jadeja back. The two spinning all-rounders will be competing for a spot. Axar (Patel) has also played well in domestic cricket."

On Shami's comeback:

The skipper welcomed fast bowler Mohammed Shami's return to the side after undergoing an extensive rehabilitation programme post knee surgery. But he was also cautious as he feels that his workload needs to be monitored.

"Shami has been a very good bowler in seaming conditions. He has worked hard on his rehabilitation and played in domestic cricket. We will see how well we can manage his work load with the World T20 Cup round the corner."

Talking about upcoming World T20s, Dhoni is satisfied that India will play three T20 Internationals Down Under as they start their preparations for the marquee event.

"Australia is a competitive side. When you compete against Australia, you always gain more experience. And with a few youngsters around, it will be interesting to see them perform," he said.

"It's good to have 3 T20s after the ODI series as we have ample opportunity to try different players in different slots.

Then we will be in a better position to finalise the playing XI at the start of the T20 World Cup. It's an exciting time and a very important three to three and half months are ahead," said wicket-keeper batsman.

On Raina's absence:

In absence of Suresh raina, who has been dropped from the ODI side, Dhoni said either Gurkeerat Singh Mann or Manish Pandey will get to play in the ODI series.

"One of the youngsters — Gurkeerat or Manish Pandey — will get to play at either Nos 5, 6 or 7. We have four very good top order batsmen (Shikhar, Rohit, Kohli and Rahane). No. 6 or 7 is the most difficult spot for any batter."

"In the past we have tried many people but very few have succeeded in that position. That's why Suresh Raina was good. Depending on how well they play, we will evaluate. I feel No 5 is good slot for a newcomer."

On the rule changes:

He also said the extra fielder outside the circle has made it difficult for the teams to go hammer and tongs in the last 10 overs and chase over 80 runs as was the case earlier.

"I feel bowlers have adapted better to rule changes. When they did not have the extra fielder they adopted new strategies which will help them now with one extra fielder available. Most bowlers are not getting hit in the last 10 overs as was the case earlier. That's why you don't have to leave too many runs to chase in the last 10 overs."

On last years World Cup:

He recalled India's good show Down Under at last year’s World Cup, where the team lost to eventual champions Australia in the semis.

"The last time in Australia, the World Cup was a very good tournament for our team except the semi finals. It's to spend some time there as Australia have always been a competitive side. It offers good opportunity for the newcomers to see how they make the transition from domestic cricket to international arena," he said.

Dhoni, who has retired from Test cricket, said that the big break has helped him recharge his batteries.

"The break from cricket has helped me as I could switch off from the game for a longer period of time after retiring from Test cricket."