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February 14, 2015

MS Dhoni


Q. Big stage for you, big game. How confident are you of making it six nil against Pakistan?
MS DHONI: We have to try our best, and that's what it's all about. It's not really about stats. As far as the preparation in the dressing room is concerned, it looks just fantastic, and all to the fact that when we play Pakistan there's definitely more intensity on the field, and with a lot of fans being around, I think it will be a perfect scenario for everyone to raise their level of performance.

Q. What difference do you see between the team which played in 2011 and this team which you are leading in this World Cup as the defending champion?
MS DHONI: Well, if you see just the amount of individuals, it's a completely different squad. There are a few players from the 2011 squad, but other than that, a lot of changes have been made for whatever reasons, and with that, you have your own strength. When an individual comes into the side, he has his own strength. The bowling department also looks very different to what we had in the 2011 World Cup tournament. It looks very different, but at the same time we try to give as many number of games to the individuals as possible so that when they turn up for the World Cup, they have quite a few games under their belt.

Q. Speaking of your first encounter against Pakistan, a few similar situations both your teams are in. There have been injuries to players from both of your sides, both teams came in on the back of losses and defeats. Are those a few factors that probably make this an even contest, as well?
MS DHONI: Well, I don't know whether it will be an even contest or not because it's very difficult to predict, but as far as India is concerned, we don't have any injuries in the squad. Yes, Ishant is the only one who's missing, so that's still a big positive because it has been a long summer for us over here, so that's a positive sign, and the players have been here for quite some time, so they know the condition well, and at the same time they've got quite a few games in the Tri‑Series, so it's looking good.

Q. You have played against Pakistan and won in the World Cup. How much of a psychological advantage, and are you carrying that advantage to this World Cup? Does it play in the back of your mind?
MS DHONI: I think what's important is to know our position well. I'm not somebody who believes greatly in stats, so what will be important for us will be to execute our plans as normally against every side. That's a key factor. Whatever plans you have, if you can execute them, then definitely you will create problems for the opposition. Irrespective of where the stats lie, what's most important for us will be the execution part because we have got quite a few plans, but execution is something, consistent and executing is something that we have lacked to some extent. So hopefully we'll start executing well.

Q. The fans have been talking about the 5‑0 recording you have against Pakistan in the World Cup. Does that actually matter at all because that began in 1992, it was a long time back, as you said, only a few guys from the '11 team are here. Does that matter at all?
MS DHONI: No, the only thing that matters is you have to answer a lot of questions regarding that. Apart from that, it doesn't really matter frankly speaking, the reason being we are talking about a span of 20 years maybe or even more. The format has changed, the players have changed. The way the game is approached, that has completely changed. It's just something -- it's nice to talk about. More than that, I don't think it really has any impact on the game.

Q. I know that four years is a long time, but before you play your first match, do you at all relive that magical night? Do you speak to your boys, most of them who were not part of the team and inspire them?
MS DHONI: Well, I think a lot has been talked about the 2011 World Cup, the celebration part, and also at the same time what the kind of mood was when it comes to the dressing room, especially after the game. Each and every individual knows about it, whether he has been part of the side or not. That's something that we don't really need to revisit again, but that's definitely something that will be now until the time we play cricket or until the time we are alive, so it was definitely a proud moment for us.

Q. You just said you learn more from defeats than wins, and recently you have faced a lot of defeats, in the Tri‑Series went winless and the warm‑ups one out of two. What have you learned and what has the team learned from this series of defeats, and how is that dictating how your playing level will be tomorrow?
MS DHONI: Well, I think the playing level will depend on the wicket. As of now the wicket is a bit damp so we'll see exactly how it is before the start of the game. It will be a hot and humid day. And about the experience, I feel it was very important for the side to get those four, five or six games, including the warm‑up games, because not many of them have played in these conditions, and also, what was good was we played in a different condition that was very different to Adelaide and stuff like that. I feel they got enough time to get used to the condition, and there were quite a few plans that they wanted to execute, but when you have a 50/50 scenario and you are under pressure to win the game every time, a lot of times you don't execute them, you just bank what your strength is. In the last two practice games that we played, the bowlers, they did execute a few of those plans, and they were quite happy with them. All in all, it just increases the arsenal if put under pressure you know what other different plans that can be executed, and the bowlers will be a bit more confident when trying those plans.

Q. They have the same skill set, so does it become difficult choosing one among the two?
MS DHONI: Well, I think you are right when it comes to weighing them on paper. They weigh almost the same. I feel Jadeja is a slightly bigger batsman. The reason being not only his domestic record but also he has got more exposure with international cricket. He has faced on more than a few occasions bowlers who bowl quick, 140 plus, and he has played in different conditions, in South Africa. I feel that's where he has that extra benefit to some extent. That experience that he has will count, and I feel actually he's bowling really well. That's a big positive for us. He's definitely someone who's bowling well. But he needs a bit more game under his belt when it comes to converting those backing abilities that he has. He'll have to play a few more bowlers who are decently quick, especially when he goes in and he's supposed to play the big strokes.

Q. Have you had a look at the wicket, and will you be more comfortable chasing on this against Pakistan?
MS DHONI: Well, we'll wait and watch, as I said, because the wicket is damp, so no point in looking at the wicket right now, but what the groundsman has said is it will look quite similar to the Australian game that we played, not the Afghanistan game, so we'll wait and watch. We still have time.

Q. Do you think this will definitely set the tempo for the total trophy?
MS DHONI: I think it's not a bad one, the reason being we have played the Tri‑Series and the warm‑up games, and starting with Pakistan, as you said, it will be a high voltage game. With so many fans coming from India, it will be a houseful. It's definitely something – it's one of those occasions where the spectators really love it. It's one of the most prized games when it comes to the ODI format. All in all I think it's a perfect scenario to start, and the guys, as I've said, they've got enough experience in the conditions, so I think it will be a good one.

Q. I know you might have heard this many times, but looking at your bowling department, you've had a break, you've had a few warm‑up games and you've had a few matches before that. Really how have you kind of worked on them to keep their morale up because they've been under a lot of scandal for a long time now, so how has it been like trying to keep the morale of the bowling department up?
MS DHONI: Well, the morale has been up. If you see there were instances where they went for runs, but at the same time they were good performances by the bowlers. Also against Australia Maxwell went for the bowling and he was able to score freely. But what happens is that actually helps them reassess their plan. All in all they are looking good. Again, we had a couple of practice sessions in the center wicket in St. Peters if I'm not wrong, and they made the most out of it. The yorker bowling was really good by all the fast bowlers, and at the same time the variations, the slower bouncer, the bouncer, even the bouncer in the slog overs and all of that stuff, so they are looking good. Where we drastically need to improve is not giving boundary – opportunity of boundary balls, easy boundary balls in the first stint overs when the ball is new and the batsmen, they can actually use your pace. That will be the key factor how we bowl in the first 10 overs.

Q. There are a lot of players on your team who will face Pakistan for the first time in a World Cup match. How important is it for you in addressing your players to calm some nerves?
MS DHONI: What's brilliant about this team is you don't need to calm nerves. They've got a fair amount of experience, all of them. They have been playing ODI cricket for quite some time. They are also part of the IPL squad, which means they are quite used to playing in front of 40,000, 50,000 people, and also the big games like the quarters, semis, and all of that, and they have played different tournaments. They have played Asia Cup and all of that. I feel there's nothing that's really needed from outside, and most of them are experienced when it comes to handling tense situations.

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