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March 6, 2015

MS Dhoni


Q. Captain, how do you assess Mohammad Shami's contribution during the initial overs because he managed getting the wicket for the team?
MS DHONI: I think what we have said is what we want is partnership in batting and in bowling. We are not emphasizing too much on individual performance. What we are looking for is how the two individuals when they are bowling or batting, what kind of partnership they are creating, so the whole essence of the team is how to win games. Definitely he has bowled well, along with other bowlers, because if you're leaking runs from one end, it's difficult to get wickets and contain batsmen from the other end. That's something that was happening quite regular when it came to our bowling outside the subcontinent, but what the bowlers are doing really well right now is they are hunting in packs. We are backing one good over followed by another good over. That actually increases the pressure, and finally you get a wicket out of it. In between those good overs, if you give too many runs, what really happens is more often than not the momentum shifts and you don't get too many wickets at that point of time. So I feel the contribution of all the bowlers is superb. Umesh is bowling well, he is bowling quick. Shami, again, yes, he has taken the extra responsibility of bowling with the new ball, and it gives Mohit a bit more time in the middle order with a bit more feel, and he has been very consistent. Overall the fastbowling department, the three of them, they bowled really well as a unit.

Q. Mahendra, was it too close for comfort to take heart from the fact that you won by chasing against a decent opposition on a tough wicket?
MS DHONI: I think it was a tough wicket. As I said, it's not really easy to chase this kind of a score on a wicket where it's slightly double paced. I felt when the West Indian team was batting it was slightly more difficult, especially the first 10 overs. But after that to some extent it settled down, but still, there was a bit of swing for the West Indian bowlers, which meant it was definitely difficult for our batsmen, also. The good thing, the batting order, all the batsmen, they got a chance to bat because this question was -- it was about to come in for the one discomfort, and the question would have been whether you are worried that the lower order has not been tested. But to some extent in this game, they are tested in this game, and hopefully in the coming two games also they'll get a bit more batting and will be ready for the knockout stages because I feel we'll have to contribute more with the lower order batsmen, and if we can do that, definitely we can add 20, 25 more runs than what we have so far.

Q. You just spoke about the low order. Before the tournament started you were asked to compare Axar and Ravindra Jadeja and you believed that Jadeja was a better batsman. Have you been happy with the way he's applied himself?
MS DHONI: No, I think he needs to improve. He needs to step up really because we have a lot of faith in him, but at the end of the day you can't really play with hope. What you want is actually performance on the field. He has that capability. You don't get three triple hundreds in India just because you know how to bat. He's definitely talented, but he needs to keep believing in himself. Every batsman, he is tested in a few areas. They will bowl short paced deliveries to him. He will have to find a way in which he can tackle it because every batsman tackles it in a different way, so he'll have to find a way, what he can really do. Or the second option will be we try to give him a platform where he doesn't have to worry about that. He goes and freely plays his big shots because where he'll find it difficult is if he goes in slightly early, if he goes in close to the 30th over mark, then that's the time when he has to think as to he'll play his big shot or he has to rotate where he can play the big shots and all of that. We'll have to assess all of that and we'll have to give him a bit more liberty to play his big shots, but it will need a platform from the top order.

Q. In the four matches, how much points do you give to your team on a scale of 10 on these four performances, and would you say the tough phase is over now and the next two matches are not that tough and you can relax a bit and give the boys a chance who are sitting on the bench?
MS DHONI: I think we'll give the credit to the team. We won't give ratings or a point system because once the World Cup campaign is over there will be newspaper, Times of India, and a lot of times they will all give us points; this individual gets this much points and they'll sit in an examination. But overall, as I said, the unit has done well. Bowlers, they have stepped up after the Tri-Series. They learned a lot out of the Tri-Series, and also from the away tours. We were in New Zealand, we didn't win single game in New Zealand, but still what I felt was the players were learning what really needs to be done, and it's all a reflection of all of that. At times people get too busy about, no, we have to win, we have to win, but what's more important is the bowlers or the batsmen, they have to learn what to do so that they can consistently win outside. I feel to some extent it's a reflection of learning of all those tools, the difficult phase that we all went through, and after that you can to some extent say this is the fruitful period for us where everything has clicked. People are taking responsibility of the openers and not scoring somebody else's scoring, but at the end of the day we are putting runs on the board, and when we are supposed to defend a total, we have done that, also. Overall, it has been good so far. We want to continue with it in the coming games.

Q. There was quite a few catches that were dropped. What's your take on that? And the second part of that is after three months in Australia, how are you going to take the next two games in New Zealand?
MS DHONI: Well, it's exactly the same. We don't have to do anything different. We have a fantastic journey from here. We go to Melbourne. From Melbourne we go to Auckland. From Auckland we drive to Hamilton, and we reach at midnight. I don't know what time we leave, so we have perfect journey, should do for us that will keep us busy. That will give us less time to think about cricket. But that's something we have to deal with. The conditions will be slightly different. The grounds will be slightly smaller over there. But again, the last tour when we were there, to some extent that will help us, knowing the condition, the grounds and all of that. Hopefully since we have played with the same set of players for a long period now, the last two, two and a half, three years, hopefully they remember what needs to be done.

Q. And the dropped balls?
MS DHONI: Yes, I believe it was slightly tough because of the wind factor. Everybody, almost all 11, you can say to some extent, dropped catches, even the best of fielders, and your average fielders also dropped catches. There must be something really that must be bothering them, and most of them they said it was the wind because of the way the ball was moving around a bit, and also they are finding it slightly difficult to keep their eyes open. Even better even to wear your glasses so the brightness is also not there, and you don't really blink too much.

Q. Moving forward, how crucial do you think is a tough workout like this, and also, do you remember playing on a wicket as bouncy like this, and Indian bowlers especially being so hostile early on?
MS DHONI: Well, if you see -- a lot of people, they speak about the bounce at Perth and Brisbane, but also what you have to remember is these are two venues that the wicket is slightly elevated so that the keeper where he stands is actually close to a feet or a feet and a half below. From outside you will see it as the extra bounce, but it's because the keeper is slightly behind. But definitely it has slightly more bounce than some of the other wickets. If you compare it to a Melbourne wicket or Adelaide wicket, definitely it has a bit more bounce and pace. But it's not exactly how it looks from outside because of the elevated playing area. Overall, as I said, yeah, it has been tough, but the last three months has been good, very comfortable learning aspect. We have played under different circumstances, different conditions. We have done well to some extent. We have not done well. So overall the learning has been good, and the last few games that we have played, again, in different conditions, the guys, they have stepped up. They have altered their length where according to the condition of the wicket or how the wicket is behaving. Overall it's looking very complete, the performance so far, but again, as the guy before you said, we dropped quite a few catches in this game, and they say catches win matches, so you have to take the catch, especially if players play the big shots, somebody like Chris Gayle or Andre Russell because they only need one chance, and all of a sudden the scoreboard starts to take on. If they would have scored 230 or 240 runs, the situation would have been very different.

Q. At the post-match you spoke about spinners not that being that much effective in New Zealand you say. So does that make you reassess the bowling combination because you are playing two specialist spinners?
MS DHONI: Well, again, the problem is the side looks better when we play with two spinners. Even though Jadeja is not performing really well as a batsman, but he still gives you that comfort if he is at six or seven, one of the slots, it looks like a slightly better side. We also have to keep in mind the slower rate because a lot of people dig into the stats. Someone told me whenever we have played with four fastbowlers, 90 percent of the time we lose and 100 percent of the time the captain gets banned. It becomes a difficult one, but at the same time as I said, hopefully the spinners, they would have learned from the last outing in New Zealand. Yes, they may not get a lot of turnover there, but they can still play with the pace and they can vary their length to a lot of extent. Hopefully both the spinners are bowling well and they'll carry the form forward into the next couple of games. Yes, the short boundaries will be a bit of a concern, but overall, again, it will be good exposure for them, the reason being we are nicely positioned in the table right now, but we would still like to give our best.

Q. You should finish top of the table, and you talked a lot of positives over the last couple of minutes. Are you playing good enough cricket to win the tournament?
MS DHONI: Well, again, what will be important is how good a cricket you play on that particular day, especially going into the knockout stages. You will have to keep the big batsmen -- by big, what I mean, that can really score quick runs. If you can get them out cheaply, that will be a big benefit, and all the sides, they have got batsmen like that. A lot will depend on how you play or what kind of cricket you play on that particular day. I feel all the teams, they are nicely matched. All of them, they have the right combination, and all of them, they have clicked to a lot of extent. So I feel it's a really balanced World Cup. I don't like to really predict too much when it comes to cricket, but we just need to keep doing what we are doing right, and we'll take one game at a time.

Q. What was the plan from the fastbowlers? Was it not to give them too much pitched up deliveries?
MS DHONI: No, we wanted to use the new ball, but at the same time we didn't want to try too many different things because they're batting in a slightly different way, especially if you see Chris, he looks to give room. You have that tendency at times, let me bowl slightly up, maybe I'll get a wicket. But what we did really nicely was they kept hitting the back of a length area, and they made it slightly uncomfortable for the batsmen. They used the bounce or the variable bounce that was available for them in the first 10 really well, and Chris went for the big shots, and ultimately one of them didn't pay off. I felt they did well. The good thing was they didn't try too many different things. What they could have adjusted was the bouncers because they bowled quite a few bouncers that went for wide, but still, I'm not too disappointed because we are getting a lot of wickets out of the short paced deliveries. Even if you give a few runs, that's fair enough because most of the batsmen, they will find it difficult to clear the big outfields over here because some of the fields are just massive. You know, to hit a six will be a big challenge.

Q. Something on the same lines, the two pacers which you have been having, this is a tournament where 300 runs have been scored, 400 runs, but your pacers have been really good and you have played these guys at the nets. As compared to the pace bowlers of other countries, do you think India has one of the best pace attacks now, and how important is it to have this reputation and to go forward in the tournament?
MS DHONI: I think what the fastbowlers have done really well is now they understand the importance of hitting that length and not trying too many different things, and that's really paying off. You know, it is something that you have to taste as a fastbowler, as a fastbowling unit, to start believing in that. When you come from the subcontinent you don't bowl a lot of overs, so whenever you get an opportunity to bowl, you look for wickets. You want to bowl six different deliveries. But when you start coming outside, outside the subcontinent on places where the kookaburra ball is used and if it stops swinging up for a while, you have to stick to the right length, and I felt that they learnt that and they have started believing in that as a unit, and that's why we see them not trying too many different things, and it's keep hitting the same areas, and that's something that's really paying off. As far as our bowling unit is concerned, I think they are bowling really well. Whether they are the best in the world or not doesn't really matter to me because at the end of the day, my players are the ones who will perform for the team. We'll have to try -- we will try to keep them fit, and hopefully we'll keep the injuries out of the way, and we'll be playing with the best 11. If we can do that, definitely our bowling will be very challenging.
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