Chennai, Feb 15 (IANS) Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni Tuesday clarified that he was not referring to any cricketing fatigue factor per se in the run-up to the World Cup, but rather to the mental preparations required for a warm-up game, something he was not used to.
“It is not fatigue factor but about mental preparation for a warm-up game. It is difficult to prepare like you do for a regular match. I have not played warm-up matches even during the start of my career at school or district level, and all of a sudden, you have to prepare for a warm-up game,” he said in the course of a media interaction on the eve of India’s second warm-up game against New Zealand here.
A section of the media had interpreted Dhoni’s statements on warm-up matches in reference to the game against Australia in Bangalore Sunday that the players had to deal with fatigue factor in view of “too much cricket”.
Looking ahead to Wednesday’s warm-up game against New Zealand, Dhoni said with India scheduled to play their opening World Cup against Bangladesh in Dhaka on February 19, his players needed to show more intensity.
“We need to pick up a bit of intensity on the field. We will be progressing to the World Cup games, this being the last warm up match,” he said.
Dhoni admitted that the middle-order collapse in the Bangalore game did weigh on his mind, but pointed out that the spinners turned the match around as the Aussies collapsed in a heap chasing 215.
“I think we needed a partnership in the middle, which didn’t really happen for us. That was one of the reasons we were not able to score big.
“The lower order partnership of 49-odd run partnership (between Yusuf Pathan and Ravichandran Ashwin) helped us really well. At the end of the day, we didn’t really have a par score on the board as we made 214. But the spinners really bowled well. They used the conditions well and we won by 30-odd runs,” he said.
Dhoni agreed that there were still a couple of spots up for grabs in the playing eleven, but there was a lot of competition for these positions and that in turn, provided him with more options.
“Most of the players are doing well which means that for the one or two spots we are talking about you have one or two contenders trying to grab the place.
“It is good for the side as we have got more options and more the options the better it is. The selection depends on the condition of wicket for each game and as to how we read the wicket. It is really good that everyone is shaping well for the tournament,” said Dhoni.
On the difference between a net session and a warm-up game, the captain said the match provided an opportunity to try out bowling and batting options.
“The heart rate goes up a bit in a practice game, but you still want to score runs. You can try the bowling variations and the batting options. In the net session you don’t get to know whether an outside edge carries to the slip or goes to the boundary,” he said.
Dhoni reiterated that Zaheer Khan was only suffering from a “very mild groin strain” and it was not a matter of concern, but he wanted to preserve the new ball bowler for the World Cup rather than risk aggravating the injury by playing him in the warm-up game.
As such, the skipper ruled out Zaheer playing the warm-up match against the Kiwis on the morrow, but confirmed that Sachin Tendulkar would open the innings, as usual.
“As I have already said, it is a very mild groin strain and nothing to worry. It is just that we can give him (Zaheer) rest. Of course, Sachin will play tomorrow,” he said.
Looking ahead to the World Cup opener against Bangladesh, Dhoni said much would depend on the behaviour of the pitch in Dhaka.
“We have to see whether dew factor will be there or not. Last time when we toured Bangladesh it was in January and there was lot of dew. But now it is February. We have to see whether dew will be there. Accordingly we have to pick our best 11,” he said.
On the New Zealand team, Dhoni said the Kiwis were known for their collective effort and did not depend on a single player.
“New Zealand have always been a very contributive side and they always don’t depend on any one particular batsman or a bowler to win the game. They are a very talented side,” he said.