Dhoni banking on IPL experience for World T20
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes the experience gained from the recently-concluded Indian Premier League will benefit his side in the upcoming ICC World Twenty20.
While some complain that the gruelling schedule could take its toll on the players, Dhoni prefers to look at the positives and not dwell on the negatives.
"I think it will help us; because of the IPL we played so many Twenty20 matches. If you look at our bench strength, even the guys who are not in the team get exposure; so, in that way, it is quite beneficial. But every thing has its positive and negative points."The negative point [of the IPL] is that we play a lot of matches and get tired; but then the youngsters also get a good exposure and it benefits them, because they get a chance of playing against good international players," the Indian captain said in Mumbai on Friday, hours before leaving for London.
Image: The Indian team for the Twenty20 World Cup
Photographs: Reuben N V
'Fatigue is a part of Indian cricket'
Dhoni refuted claims that fatigue might take a toll on the players in the upcoming World Twenty20.
"Being an Indian cricketer you get used to fatigue as you keep playing more and more. Slowly you get used to it and in between you can get a break too. Fatigue is a part of Indian cricket and till now the players have done really well with it; they are aware of what needs to be done."
The 15-member squad left for London on Friday afternoon to defend the crown they clinched in the inaugural edition of the tournament in South Africa, in 2007.
Looking back on that triumph, Dhoni said one of his most memorable moments was the match against hosts South Africa, which India won by 37 runs."There were quite a few memorable moments. One of the games that we really liked was the match against South Africa. The wicket was lush green and it was a fast track. I was really happy to see the way our guys responded, especially the pace battery... and Bhajji was brilliant, as usual. The fielding was up to the mark and Rohit [Sharma] came up with an important run-out at the right time. That was one memorable moment, but, overall, it was quite a memorable tournament for the individuals as well as the team," he said.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
'Part-time bowlers offer plenty of options'
Dhoni believes the number of part-time bowlers in the squad will make his work easy, since there will be plenty of options in hand.
"If you look at our side you will see that it really suits the Twenty20 format. We have specialist bowlers, and the best part is that we have got part-timers who did well for their respective franchises in the IPL. It gives the skipper plenty of options to use them at different points in the game and you don't have to rely on the specialist bowlers at all times.""Right from the time Twenty20 started, the spinners have had a big impact in this format. It is good to have so many options, especially when it comes to spinners, which means you can play with an extra seamer if you want," he said.
Image: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh share a light moment
'Every team has got an equal chance'
Though they are pitted against Bangladesh and Ireland for the group matches, Dhoni said the team won't be taking things lightly.
"You can't relax, because Twenty20 is such a format that if you lose ground at the start then you don't get time to recover after that. It is better that we concentrate and treat every team equally and not take any of them lightly.
"Every team can have an off day and the other team could play well and there is a chance that any team can beat the best of sides. I don't consider any team as dark horses; I think every team has got an equal chance."The Indian captain is pinning hopes on Harbhajan Singh to play a key role with the ball, like he did last time, but also feels he could shine with the bat too.
Image: Zaheer Khan and Yusuf Pathan
'Harbhajan's contribution will be important'
"Harbhajan has been our main asset as far as the spin department is concerned. He made a major contribution in the last T20 World Cup, too, because every time he came on to bowl there was a lot of pressure on him. I think again the pressure will be on him, but he loves pressure and the more pressure you put on him, the better results we get out of him.
"It depends on the conditions, where he will be bowling, whether it is the first six overs or the last few overs. His contribution will be important, not only with the ball, but he is also a decent slogger with the bat and you will see quite a few runs from him too," added Dhoni.
Dhoni expects pace spearhead Zaheer Khan to be fit for the opening match against Bangladesh on June 6. The left-arm pace bowler injured his bowling shoulder during the IPL when he dived to stop a boundary."Zaheer Khan is not one hundred per cent fit, but we hope he would be fit by the time of our first match. He is likely get fit by the second or third June."
Image: Praveen Kumar and Rudra Pratap Singh