India looking to get basics right in final
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni called upon his teammates to do the basics right without worrying about the outcome in their tri-series final against Sri Lanka in Dambulla on Saturday.
India have beaten Sri Lanka in four finals in the past two years in the Island country, the most recent victory coming in the Asia Cup in June, and the visitors are seeking their fifth successive win.
"I think it is a small thing that really matters, you know. If you take care of small things the big steps they take care of themselves. So it will be all the small and basic things," Dhoni told a press conference, which he addressed 45 minutes after the schedule time.
"Depends on what you are doing first, batting or bowling. If bowling first, try to make use of conditions. There will be a strong breeze going across the field. If the bowlers can take help of that, and if we get early wickets, we can restrict the opposition in accumulating too many runs," he said.
"Fielding will be crucial, because we have seen every 10 runs the opposition scores it can really count at the end of the game. I think we will take care of the basics and stick to the basics," he insisted.
Image: India captain M S Dhoni kicks a soccer ball past Sehwag during practice
'We try to keep it simple'
Dhoni said all the three teams in the tri-series struggled on the sporting pitch at the Rangiri Dambulla International stadium and his side will not worry about their performance thus far.
"We try to keep it simple. If you look worried about something then the players will always look worried. I think this has been a series of ups and downs. Not only for our batsmen, but for all three teams which participated.
"The new ball spell has been important. What we have seen is there have been batting collapses and sides have been bundled out for 100, 120 or 140 odd runs," he said, when asked about the poor form of the middle order batsmen.
"I think the new ball will be very crucial. It is important to just see the new ball off. How you do that it is not really important, whether it looks good or does not. I think it will be crucial not to lose too many early wickets. That will be one of the main strategies that will be used by both the teams," he said.
Image: India coach Gary Kirsten catches a ball with a baseball glove as he runs through drills
'Hopefully, no more controversies'
Two league matches between the countries were embroiled in controversy, the first a no-ball incident while the second was ruined by dodgy umpiring decisions, but Dhoni expressed home Saturday's final will be played in good spirit.
"We try to avoid as much controversy as possible. But in between we have seen some of the batsmen get fined. Either the skipper gets fined for bowling slow. You can go on with that. Hopefully, no more controversies and as far as going hard is concerned we try to do things in our groove that is what our strength is," he said.
"Our strength is not to go out and be really verbal. We have been a side that cheers up the bowler but at the same time try not to get very personal with the batsmen. So we have tried to keep a distance with the opposition batsman batting at the crease. I hope to keep it the same. Hopefully it will be a non controversial final and will be a good final for the spectators as well," added Dhoni.
Image: Munaf Patel bowls in the nets during Friday's practice
'Don't want to put undue pressure on Sehwag'
Asked about the inconsistent batting of his side in the series, also involving New Zealand, Dhoni said, "Well, of course, it is. Especially if you see the number of runs scored by the batsmen. That is a major concern right now. But we are hoping it turns out well tomorrow.
"We will get a par score that the bowlers can help us defend. How we achieve that par score, who scores does not really matter till somebody scores and we get those 220 or 240 odd runs.
"Our lower order batting has got affected, as Harbhajan (Singh) and Zaheer Khan contribute with the bat also. However, the role of the bowler is to bowl well," he added.
Virender Sehwag is the only batsman who has performed in the tournament and Dhoni hoped the other batsman would also click on the morrow so that too much pressure is not put on the swashbuckling opener.
"We don't want to put undue pressure on Sehwag. He is a free-flowing cricketer. He is a natural, aggressive cricketer. I think he should still back himself and bat the way he bats. As far as form is concerned, one gets back to form in one match and he could get out of form in two matches. Being the finals, a contributory effort will be needed.
"As long as you are there you try to make a platform wherein the other batsmen who come after you they are able to perform. I think it will be a very contributory effort. But if we win the final because of an individual brilliance the team won't really mind it. But, hopefully, it being a team sport everyone will try to do his job. I think it is the result that will matter," he said.
Asked about his strategy tomorrow, Dhoni said, "There is no fixed plan. Lot of time we slogged. After Asia Cup there were about 10-12 matches where there had been no chance to slog. We are just feeling the flow of the bat. It is not because of any strategy."
Image: Virender Sehwag gets batting practice
'Toss is not a factor unlike in earlier series'
Dhoni refused to reveal the team composition and whether Ravindra Jadeja would be brought in or not, saying it all depends on the playing conditions.
"Winning combination is important, but we have to see what kind of wicket is given to us. And accordingly we will select our eleven. So if we feel that the wicket is dry and is not very hard and can assist spinners, then definitely Jadeja will get a spot.
"But if we feel that the spinners will not get that much assistance and we will need another batsman then Jadeja will have to miss. We will see exactly and decide after we see the wicket before the game," he said.
Dhoni was happy that his side had a good practice session ahead of the final.
"It was a good practice session (today). The centre wicket practice session is always a better one because you exactly know where the ball is going and whether you have fielders there or not. I think we made the most of it. We had a long practice session and we are just hoping that everybody gears up well," he said.
Asked what has changed since winning four finals in Sri Lanka, Dhoni said, "Well, we have won many tosses. Before the Asia Cup I think it was in Premadasa Stadium where we won four tosses out of five. Before that we played at Dambulla in the initial part of the series. Even in that we won many tosses.
"I think in this tournament we have found that toss is not a factor unlike in earlier series when you win the toss and make 240-250 runs and the opposition finds it difficult to score under the lights while chasing. But we found a change when we played at the Asia Cup. I think when we played on a fresh wicket instead of a used up wicket then we found that chasing was not that difficult."
Image: Sri Lanka's captain Sangakkara is treated by team physiotherapist Clark during a practice session