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February 22, 2015

MS Dhoni


Q. The win against Pakistan was satisfying. Would you say that this is more satisfying than that win?
MS DHONI: I think, you know, having backtoback wins and especially the kind of wins that we have had in the last two games, it's tough to get, so definitely both the games were important for us, and the way we played in this game, also  last game I said it was a complete batting performance, but this game also I felt we did really well with the batting. We tried something different. Last few overs we actually went for the big shots irrespective of when the wickets were falling. We actually wanted to see how much we can push, so even though Raina got out and it was Jadeja went for his runs and ultimately Shami and Ashwin are batting at the end. That was good to see, and getting 300 runs was fantastic. It was definitely a par plus score on this wicket, and when we turned up with the ball, I think we bowled in the right areas and we made it tough for the opposition to score.

Q. What do you have to say about Shikhar's comeback in the last two games, the way he's batted, especially the way he's dealt with the short deliveries?
MS DHONI: Well, I think comeback is only one game. You can't say comeback for two games because let's forget that. I think he batted really well. The reason was if you see he was putting in effort in the net sessions, and as I said, a lot of times people talk about form, but form is somebody that nobody sees. It's just a matter of 15, 20 minutes, and maybe it was something that he spent in the last game, that 20 minutes of initial batting that really helped him. Today also you can see he was really batting the way he bats when it was there to play the big shots, he did play it, and he was also rotating the strike. He made sure that once he got his hundred he was still there at the crease so it was easier for the other batsmen, also. It's important if you get a hundred and you are able to score 130 or 140 runs you always see the team getting those extra 20 or 25 runs. So it was good on his part to make sure he stays until the end because the general tendency at times is for the openers is to after the 25th over they like to play the big shots. They think their job is over. But I think in these conditions once you are set you have to make the most of it.

Q. South Africa's skipper said the wicket was twopaced and that the wicket was slow and that was the reason that India won. Do you feel so it was the wicket slow? Basically that there was a twopaced wicket.
MS DHONI: Yeah, it's a difficult one to answer, but I think the bowlers bowled the right length. It was definitely twopaced right from the start, but maybe under the lights because general tendencies under the lights, it quickens up a bit, and we were able to get a bit more swing under the lights, and if there's an increase in pace, it definitely means if it was twopaced in the afternoon, and if the pace increases the difference will rise. If it becomes quicker, then the slow one will still go slower. I felt the mix of pace was good from our bowlers, but what was really crucial was the use of the bouncer, and I think the run out in the middle overs, two run outs from the fastbowlers, especially from the deep, I think that really changed the game for us.

Q. Batsmen's form sometimes goes up and down and you set plans for bowlers and sometimes they're not able so execute well. But this Indian team, especially in the limited overs knows that feeling is their strength, so how much of that up lifts your morale in the dressing room, especially coming on the back of say a poor TriSeries into the World Cup. How much of that lift changes your mood?
MS DHONI: I think what we know is we can add minimum 10 to 15 runs to whatever we score. So if you score 280 runs, which is a par score, we know with our fielding we can actually add another 15 runs, and the kind of fielders that we have got, they may be one fielder or two, it was slightly slower than the others, but by no means we are bad fielders. But other than that I think we have got some excellent fielders, and apart from that we have got fastbowlers who are above average fielders. Overall I've got plenty to play with. I don't always have to think about which player needs to go where. I have time to think more about the strategies rather than trying to use four or five good fielders and seeing what's really needed, whether I need to stop the singles or I need boundary riders who can stop the twos and the threes. That actually eases the pressure off me. But it's something that you will see in the coming years with more players, the fresh players coming in with the infrastructure that's provided to them and the importance that's given to fitness, you will see more often than not the new crop of players, they'll be really good in fitness, which will really reflect in the fielding department.

Q. Can you talk about the first 10 overs? Is that one of the best you've seen? India contended I think two or three boundaries in the first 10 overs. Is that the best you've bowled in the first 10 overs in the last six to 12 months?
MS DHONI: I don't remember that much, but in the recent times, definitely it was a fantastic performance. Maybe the wicket also helped us a bit, but still, hitting the right areas, the length, according to the wicket, how the wicket is behaving, is crucial, and I felt that was the main aspect where we were really good. They quickly assessed what was the right length to bowl, and they didn't give too much role. When it was swinging they made sure they bowled tight length, and at the same time when it stopped swinging, still they were bowling close. They never gave any extra width to the batsmen, and most of their batsmen, if you see, they love that extra width right from the top order. They just love to have that width and they score quite freely. It was important that we don't give them that width. Most important thing is you always have plans, but it's how we execute the plans. In the first 10 overs this was definitely one of our best performances in the recent past.

Q. Did it feel like playing at home with so much support from the stands? How did that affect the crowd?
MS DHONI: Well, I'm glad somebody asked that question because the attendance was close to 86,000 or 87,000. Let's give the benefit of the doubt, 20,000 to the South African fans, but to get like over 50,000 people in Australia, I think it just adds on to atmosphere that gets created. It starts from the warmup, and after the National Anthem, it just multiplies. It's always good to play in front of good support, and the kind of support we are talking about, even when we are playing in India, there are stadiums, some of the stadiums which don't have that kind of capacity, so even when they are full they're close to 40,000, so today we are seeing in Australia close to more than 50,000 to 60,000 people supporting us. Definitely we need to give a lot of credit to them, so I think it's really heartening to see people coming from all over, not only India, a lot of them are from Australia, from England they have come. All of it feels good to play in front of big crowds.

Q. After such a win, there can be criticism, but towards the end of our batting, it did appear that we could have scored more. Is it related to the fact that you talked about the length at which the bowlers are bowling, it's difficult to clear the boundary?
MS DHONI: Well, it is a difficult one. It's not only us. Most of the sides, if you see, it's not easy to  especially if you have last wicket. If you have set batsmen they know that pace and the bounce and they can score, but if you settle the batsmen who are batting so you can say to them, I was batting with Jadeja maybe until that time we were scoring at a decent pace. If it's difficult for the batsmen, we can't expect Ashwin and Shami to score that eight, nine or ten runs an over because more often than not the opposition don't allow us to score that freely. Until the batsmen were batting, I thought we were scoring at a decent pace. I don't know the stats. I may be wrong. But it felt good. Also what was important was Ajinkya's batting because in the last game we promoted Raina ahead of him, but we had a chat with him, we said bat your strength, use your timing because that's really your strength. If you look to give too much power you lose shape and you're not allowed to score freely, but you need to use your timing, and especially in this game I thought he batted really well. He backed his natural instinct, his timing to a lot of extent to get the number of runs. So I was very happy with his performance. And slowly with more games and seeing the condition, I think we'll start getting more and more runs.

Q. What you mentioned about Shami, he's one of the quietest fellows in the team, and his development over the last one, one and a half years, how pleasing has it been for you to see how he's 
MS DHONI: Well, there has been improvement, irrespective of the format, in T20, ODIs or as a Test player he has really improved. He's definitely one of the individuals who's not really rigid. He's quite open to ideas. He's quite open to try new things, and once he tries it out, he gives you a good response as to whether it's working or not working for him. Also he's one of the fittest guys. You see him on the field, he's very quick, and his intensity actually never drops right from the first over until the 90th over if you see a test match, which I feel to me that's what fitness is all about. It's all about how many tests you can do. It's really nice to see him. He's not someone who owns a position in the sense he's not somebody who wants to field that covers. Wherever there is opportunity he's willing to go there, whether it's boundaries, covers, leg slip, anywhere, so it becomes slightly easy, but what has been really good is him batting his strength, which I feel is timing, and exploiting the field to a lot of extent. It's really good to see him get the kind of runs, and how he's getting it is really important.

Q. You really see that India performs better in ICC tournaments, but despite that for a team that was struggling to win for the last two and a half months, how do you explain this tremendous turnaround?
MS DHONI: Well, we kept it very simple right from the start. We knew it would be slightly tough for us to turn it on, the reason being we'll be here for four, four and a half months. We wanted to test our  give players more opportunities in the TriSeries to some extent. There were quite a few players who were injured, also. We kept the intensity a bit low during the TriSeries. Still, we wanted to win. We pushed for the wins, but we are not able to get that. But at the same time we knew with the World Cup right at the corner, this tournament was much more important to us, and we had to make sure people with niggles, they don't come into the World Cup. Any individual who had a bit of a niggle we kept them out of the 11 because we didn't want to push that particular individual. Also we had put in a lot of effort and time in these 15 to 17 players, so this is the right time. They have played ODI cricket for the last couple of times, many of them, so when you are putting in so much effort, you have to make sure these individuals who are playing for the last couple of years, they turn up for the World Cup because you are giving them minimum 40 to 50 games. To some extent you can say they are the experienced ones. I feel like we kept it simple and that really helped. The 10day break also helped us to a lot of extent, and once we turned back after that five to 10day break we made sure that we used the practice in the best possible manner. We requested for a few center wicket packets. That was provided to us, and we gained a lot out of it. We had a few long practice sessions, but we made sure that in between we have complete day off, also. We have managed all these things well, and you think it's also a lot of credit needs to be given to the individual support staff and the team because to have the dressing room atmosphere despite the type of losses we have is just something that is very difficult, and not to forget, we get criticised a lot when we are not doing well. You may ignore it to whatever extent, but it still plays a part.
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