World T20 2016 March 8, 2016

'A relief to have specific death bowlers' - Dhoni

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Preparing myself for those 10-12 ball innings

MS Dhoni, heartened by the new-found assuredness surrounding India's death bowling, has said an efficient all-round attack has minimised his longstanding bowling worries. Since the start of the Australia T20s early in the year, India's bowling, especially at the death, has received a boost with the emergence of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya as well as Ashish Nehra's second coming.

While Bumrah has the most flattering figures among the three with 15 wickets from 11 games conceding only 6.15 runs per over, Nehra (13) and Pandya (10) have also done well to further Dhoni's plans at different points of the innings. Dhoni has a fondness for bowlers who can deliver the yorker well - Mohammed Shami being a good example - and Bumrah's ability to send them down at will has made him invaluable to the team.

"It's a relief to have specific death bowlers," Dhoni said in Kolkata. "What I am definitely feel happy about is, if we are fielding, right from the first over I know who is bowling at the death for me. That's a big relief. Looking at the team 99% of the time I know who is bowling [at the] death.

"Maybe in the last few years, after seeing how everybody is bowling, close to 15th or 16th over mark I had to decide who I will use in the slog overs according to who is bowling well, what the conditions are. But [now] the whole bowling department is doing well, the job becomes much more easy. Definitely I don't have to put a lot of effort in to thinking who is the best bowler for the death."

Dhoni was also pleased with his batsmen starting to embrace the idea of batting in different positions depending on the match situation. "I felt not everybody can fluctuate according to the needs, and that is something it is important that every player tries to do," Dhoni said. "If you have that flexibility in batting... more often than not it is the mental flexibility that is really needed. Everybody knows what their roles and responsibilities are.

"Let us say, for example, an opposition has two left-arm spinners [and] if you see the Indian team right now we have the right combination of left-hand and right-hand batsmen. Ideally a left-right combination is the best to have but if the opposition doesn't have any offspinner and the wicket is turning then why not promote somebody who bats maybe at six but who can bat at four and you can have two left-handers at the same time. So this kind of adaptability really needed and I feel slowly each and every one is open to the idea and they have played enough to have that kind of an exposure."

When asked if Virat Kohli was his natural successor to play the finisher's role, Dhoni said the team should not depend on a top-order batsman to do that job as well. "The finisher is usually me and the lower-order batsman. The entire set-up is for the lower-middle order to finish the game. If your top order is doing it it's fantastic, but the finishing term is a very specific term and should be used with players batting at Nos. 5, 6 and 7.

"If your openers are batting well and if they are continuously winning games for you you may call them finishers but usually I term the finishing job the role of people who bat lower, their job profile is different. As you come down the order you have to think twice before hitting because the number of batsmen there after you keeps going on the lesser side."

Dhoni acknowledged the fact that he might not face too many deliveries, and said he would have to condition himself to play short, impactful innings. "I think 90% of the time I will be playing the same kind of role I played in Asia Cup," he said. "We will be in a very tough position if I get to play maybe 20 or 25 deliveries, unless I really promote myself. More often than not, I think I will have to prepare my mindset for 10 or 12 ball innings maximum, so that will be my role and responsibility more often than not if everything goes to plan."

On Mohammad Shami's injury, Dhoni said he'd have to prove his fitness to make the XI. "You'll be informed [about his injury status]. We will consult with the physios and take proper action."

With India having won 10 of their last 11 T20Is, could they up their momentum any further? Dhoni joked India were already running in "sixth gear" but typically dismissed any notions of complacency. "I think we are running in the sixth gear - I know technology has gone into eight gears," he said. "Everything is set. I don't think there are further gears to operate upon.

"How we are playing cricket and the stuff we are doing on the field is adequate for any level of game, but we have to keep our intensity up and focus should be there from ball one."

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SAURAVJAIN on March 9, 2016, 18:26 GMT

    @GNANESHWAR RAJU Remind you the Champions Trophy final of 2013 when Jadeja won it because of his batting.

  • cricketsubh on March 9, 2016, 15:11 GMT

    I don't understand why people expect so much more from young bhumra he is still young learning he do well in t20 cricket but still long way to go his real test comes when batsman pick his action and 2 thing Hardik Pandey greater find than bhumra India need to handle pandey carefully

  • Nampally on March 9, 2016, 14:35 GMT

    Whilst I agree with Dhoni's logic in describing the current Indian XI, I have just a coupe of reservations. Firstly #4 should be for a "specialist batsman". Raina lacks skill/footwork to play good pace bowling such as Amir, on a spicy pitch. India needs to review this spot. Secondly, Nehra has bowled well in taking wkts. with his LH angled swingers. But he has also been expensive. B.Kumar on the other hand has shown remarkable improvement both in swing, accuracy & Pace with his 4-2-8-2 figure in his last appearance. He was also Dhoni's favourite in "death overs" in the past. I think for economy alone Kumar gets my vote. Shami is far from "Fit" & is now "Rusty" too! So expecting the old Shami overnight will be tempting fate. If Indian pitches continue to be flat, the present XI may be OK with just one change. But on wkts. like Pune, India need to make 2 changes, as suggested above. Ashwin & Bumrah are 2 bowling stars whilst Kohli & Rohit the batting stars. Good Luck, MSD & India! .

  • vkumar_086 on March 9, 2016, 14:11 GMT

    @ANUPKENI...yes you are right...India are yet to win T20 WC match against NZ...I feel the first match against NZ is the most difficult match for India in league stage...winning that match will give momentum for India...I hope India set the record straight like 2015 WC where we won for the first time in WC against SAf

  • Damu13579 on March 9, 2016, 13:36 GMT

    Hedayat Raza Khan, The matter is that you seem to have watched and heard about only the final.Hope you understood what I meant.

  • anupkeni on March 9, 2016, 12:26 GMT

    India is yet to win a T20I match against New Zealand. Infact India has lost all 4 of its completed T20Is played against New Zealand. However in all those 4 matches Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori were the star performers for New Zealand. With both of them having now retired, India now has its best opportunity to win a T20I against New Zealand in Nagpur on 15th March. But India cannot afford to take New Zealand lightly as New Zealand is still a formidable team in T20Is despite the retirements of Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori.

  • SLslider on March 9, 2016, 11:32 GMT

    @ ELECTRIC_LOCO_WAP4 Well our Malinga who according to you is the best bowler ever went for 24 in ODI match against Kohli, Samuels took him apart as well. His action is even weirder. He is overweight as well. I would like to know your thoughts on that.

  • SAURAVJAIN on March 9, 2016, 10:49 GMT

    @AKM DHL Agree with you in case of ordinary and luck based players like Hardik PANDYA,Dhawan. Nehra will adjust against good opposition's I hope. But cannot guarantee Yuvraj Singh. Manish Pandey I think is still better choice than Yuvi. But since Pandya cannot bowl 4 complete overs so it leads to Yuvi completing 2-3 overs. Thus both Yuvi and Pandya are there for Manish Pandey,Amit Mishra,Bhuvi,RP and Shami(if fit). Sarfaraj KHAN is also a good choice.@AKM DHL

  • SAURAVJAIN on March 9, 2016, 10:45 GMT

    Bumrah is a great finding. He can bowl in death and in power plays. He can bowl consistent swinging Yorkers. But Pandya should be replaced by a genuine bowler like Amit Mishra,Bhuvi,RP or a fit Shami. Pandya can neither bowl in death,nor in power plays. He is a luck based blind hunting batsman of Yusuf Pathan kind. His bowling will perish India against good batsman and good opposition's.

  • android_user on March 9, 2016, 10:08 GMT

    Bumrah impressed me during one of the IPL games against RCB when he got Kohli lbw.

    What was impressive was the movement he got with the white ball after pitching. It will be more likely be difficult for batsmen to take him on for a 20 run over.

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