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March 14, 2015

MS Dhoni


Q. MS, how important was this workout for the Indian team after being under pressure initially and then the 196-run partnership that you put up with Suresh Raina?
MS DHONI: I think it couldn't have been better in the sense if you're playing the last game of your -- of the league stage, and if you get an easy win, you don't get a lot out of that game. What was good was the spinners were put under pressure, and also we lost quick wickets initially, and that actually put our middle and lower middle order under pressure, so we gained a lot out of it. Winning, of course, was very important, but the knock by Raina was very crucial coming at No. 5. More often than not you don't get an opportunity. You get in to bat maybe after the 38th, 39th over if your top order is batting well and you have to slog it out, so you play the big shot, you get out, you don't score too many runs, and at the end of the day when you get into the knockout stages you want to have runs under your belt. It doesn't really matter how many runs, but once you get going, it just gives you that good feeling, which I feel is important in the knockout stages. Overall that's one of the main reasons why I would say it was a good game for us, and all the batsmen, also, they were under pressure, was doing a bit, and started to stop a bit, also, and the bowlers, I felt they exploited it. They are bowling slower, they are using the slower deliveries really well. So overall a good game.

Q. Your successful run chase is the best in this world. It's more than 100. Can you give advice to young, budding cricketers as to exactly what you do, how you change your mindset when you're chasing a difficult target?
MS DHONI: I think what's important is to break the number of runs into small, small criterias. You may say, okay, next two or three overs let's look for 10 runs or 15 runs or even eight runs if someone is bowling really well. But at the same time it's a team effort. You can't really miss out the fact that somebody like Raina, how he batted in the other end also eases up the pressure from me, and he has done it quite a few times, you know, him, Yuvraj, there have been instances where I've batted with Virat. I've done that but got them, also. So I feel what is really important to chase down targets is if one is acting slightly cold, the other one has to take over, and you have to run well between the wickets. That's the key factor. You can't always rely on the big shots. The reason being, yes, you get sixes and boundaries playing the big shot, but if you are batting at No. 6, you know there's batsman after you and that actually puts pressure. The top one, two or three, they can play their big shots because they know there are five batsmen behind them. But when you go in at 6 or 7 you have to think maybe three times before you play the big shot. That itself puts a lot of pressure on you, but I feel when there's a partnership going, two batsmen batting, I feel the key is for both of them to run well between the wickets and to make sure when they get the loose deliveries to get the most out of that delivery. It's most preferred to be a boundary because there's less chances or less risks involved, and ultimately once you break the big into small, small targets achieving those targets it just keeps giving you confidence, maybe 10 or 12 runs or 15 runs, but you gain confidence out of every target that you achieve. Overall you keep breaking it down and in turn put the pressure back on the opposition.

Q. As you said, most of the batsmen have got runs, fastbowlers have done well. Is the form of Ravindra Jadeja the only concern you carry into the knockouts?
MS DHONI: Well, I think to some extent you may say it's a bit of a concern, but at the same time, as I said, if you are worried about Raina in the sense, he has not got enough chance to bat, but he has still done decently well. It's difficult to go down further because then you come to me and say, okay, maybe you have batted a bit. But Jadeja has not got much chances to bat. Also it's not easy to get in and slog over here. Only the bowling, I think, has bowled decently well in patches. He's still improving, and overall, he's a key ingredient, the reason being it gives us that hope, and we have put in a lot of effort and time in him since the last World Cup. He has been a regular part of the team, and he has actually done really well for us. I'm quite happy with the way he's bowling. I won't really consider today's game because both Ashwin and him, they went for shorter boundaries and it was difficult, and the way Taylor was batting, it took them on. Overall quite happy with how they have bowled, both the spinners and also Jadeja, but if would have got a chance to bat, also, would have made it slightly easy for him, but you can't really have control over that.

Q. MS, you have said previously that when you're chasing you want to keep pushing the odds until it's in your favour when you start taking risks. At what point was it today that you felt the game is in your favour, and when you've realized that you've got the game?
MS DHONI: What's important is to make the margin narrow, the number of deliveries to the number of runs that's needed, and at times when you have wickets in hand you actually try to relate to an IPL scenario, what's a good defense I would like to say, what's a good defense. It's our theory. If you are matching that, you are in a good position, and then you have to see which bowlers are supposed to bowl, if you have a shorter end, and all of those things plays a factor, which bowler is bowling well, who you can target. So it's a mixture of everything. It sounds very complex, but when you are in those circumstances, more often than not that it's a situation that really works out, so you don't have to put a lot of thinking behind it. It's a brain that keeps working. It's just that you have to communicate well with the other batsmen. You fix targets as to the next two or three overs where you want to be.

Q. What looking forward to the quarterfinals stage, last time you were under intense pressure because of expectation at home. Is the team feeling a little bit more liberated, less stressed, because you're playing away from home at this time?
MS DHONI: We have the same kind of pressure. I've said it so many times, irrespective of which team we play or which tournament we play, we are under pressure. The good thing, the boys are quite used to it. Once a few times there have been instances where we are down, but from that position, also, we have come back strongly and we have done well. I think from an experience point of view, there may not be too many people in the team who have played 200 or 250 games, but the fluctuation in our performance in the last few years, including the test performance, it just pushes the guys to new ways as to how you can get out of pressure. You have this constant pressure on you and still perform and keep the morale high.

Q. You've won nine one-day matches hitting a six, the most by any player. Do you enjoy that, and do you consciously look to do that because today the higher bat lift at the end would suggest that you were consciously looking to hit that six?
MS DHONI: No, I was not planning to hit. It's just a reflex that takes over, and also by that time I was quite set. I had played a few deliveries, a number of deliveries. I got my time in the middle, and also the fact that we had too many batsmen left, and with only five or six runs. If it's there you hit it because you don't really have that pressure of thinking whether the guys coming after you will be able to score five or six runs or not. Once you're that close, at times you take that chance. But a lot of times it has happened that the bowler also knows you are going to play the big shot, so no point really trying to play that shot and getting out because they're quite clever people. They adapt very quickly. So if it's there, hit it, if it's not there, maybe take a single and end the game.

Q. Having made the quarterfinals now, how difficult is it to actually think of it just as one game at a time because now in one way it's three games to the World Cup.
MS DHONI: Well, you know, the fact itself, it's quite easy to deal with, the reason being the experience that we have got. I said yesterday not too many who have played 150 games or 175 games, but they have that experience in the sense we have played in Champions Trophy and we have done well, and it's almost the same side. If you see a few players are missing, and then also the T20 World Cup last time. So they know in the knockout stages they have to lift their game, and also the fact with IPL happening and once you get into the knockout stages, most of the players play from teams that do qualify or have qualified, so they know what really needs to be done, and also it's something that we keep addressing. As you go into the tournament it's something that you keep stressing about because these are situations where you have to win that 50/50 scenario because you may not get a second chance, so you have to be at your best, and I think the guys will be well-equipped when it comes to the communication part to handle the situation.

Q. I just wanted to ask you what you think of the way One Day cricket has changed in terms of between the last World Cup and here, where people score runs because the rules are different. It's almost that 300 is now a given and double the score of the 30 overs is meaningless. The batsmen are literally playing the 1st to the 35th or 38th over, they can go slow like the Zimbabweans did today, and then they just go crazy towards the end.
MS DHONI: Well, that has been the case so far. That's one of the reasons why I always keep saying, we need to have that extra fielder outside because a lot of innovations have come into the game, but still, you need to credit the kind of players who play those shots, but also you need to push the players who have that power game, and that was a key ingredient in the last World Cup, to have people who can clear the big boundaries. A lot of times you may question as to still there was not a single dropped catch, and still, there have been instances where batsmen have scored 150 or 180 runs, but what's important is that one fielder when he's outside, you may miss time one in the whole innings that may be at the start of your innings, and that's a deep point fielder that takes that catch, but now with him not being there, a few missed times, the drop here and there, and all of a sudden you see the batsman timing a lot of deliveries. With two new balls it doesn't really get too old to get reverse swing going. These are all the difficulties that the bowlers are facing. I feel we still need to give that emphasis to the people who use power, people who can clear the fields. But now what has happened, a lot of successful last few over batsmen are the ones who are more innovative, playing the reverse to the fastbowler, using the slog speed and all of that. I feel you need to have that power and give that bowler that liberty of one extra fielder.

Q. What about somebody like a Rohit Sharma who has that knack of scoring very big runs and delivering. Until now he hasn't had that big score really and he must be very keen to getting on with it. What do you say to him?
MS DHONI: Well, we have to consider the fact there have been instances where we have chased quite a few times so far in the tournament, and if the opposition have not scored too many runs, the openers, they can't score the same number of runs. But what's important is to see what kind of a start they have got. I feel Rohit has batted really well so far. He looks quite calm and composed, and at the same time he's playing the shots really well. That's something that's a key factor. It's not always about the runs. We have seen batsmen who are playing really well but they have not scored runs, and all of a sudden you see a game where they score really big and they come back. So it's not really being out of form. What's important is to spend time in the middle, and I think Rohit has done enough of that.
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