ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
India v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, Chennai
Ashwin, Raina likely to play West Indies
Sharda Ugra in Chennai
March 19, 2011
The reception given to MS Dhoni at his pre-match media briefing before India's final group match at the World Cup reflected none of the heated arguments on in print or television, or even outside the media conference room at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Rather than a barrage of unpleasant questions about captaincy, the Indian team's batting performance in Nagpur, Ashish Nehra's 50th over or R Ashwin's debut, the treatement could be described as cordial. "Happy Holi, Mahi," a reporter said, referring to the famous festival of colours that will spread across most of India over the weekend. Dhoni wished the reporter back warmly. When the question about the batting did turn up, Dhoni decided to leave the colourful quotes behind and tried splashing some whitewash over Nagpur.
Dhoni was asked whether there had been a thorough debrief after India lost their last nine wickets for 29 runs in their defeat to South Africa. He replied: "The beauty of our batting side is that you don't need to always pinpoint what went wrong or what needs to be done. The amount of experience we have got, the moment you commit a mistake you realise, okay, this is what exactly went wrong." What happened in Nagpur, he said did not "need to be addressed in a big way. Most of us have played over 100 games. But the better sides are the ones who do not repeat their mistakes in short intervals."
India's biggest mistakes in its two matches against top-flight teams - England and South Africa - he said, had been to take their foot off the pedal after the best of starts. "It's not only about how well you have started the game and how long you have dominated, you can't say you have won a game till it's over. It is a big learning and hopefully we won't repeat the same mistakes that have happened so far. We are human beings; we are always supposed to commit mistakes. Hopefully the interval between two will be long." All of India will be wishing that the interval would at least be longer than the next two weeks.
After being pretty tight-lipped about team selection through the tournament so far, Dhoni stuck his neck out this time, and said "everyone" on his team "would have played at least one game before the knockout stage." Translated that means that the two men who have not had a match so far, Suresh Raina and R Ashwin, will be in the XI on Sunday.
Dented reputation or not, what India still has is belief within the batting and the fact that the unit as a whole is "due". Their captain said so with emphasis. "Our seven batsmen have not fired at their best. If we get a really good day on the field with the batting department, we have the capabilities of putting huge totals on the board and it will definitely be a par plus score."
The question that produced the response was one about the batting. But, as if on autopilot, Dhoni produced a spontaneous, unsolicited comment on India's fielding, just in case anyone would slip the question in. "I do not see plenty of improvement in the fielding department. We are definitely not as good as some of the teams in the present World Cup but on our own we have shown that we are improving. Our good fielders are doing better every game and our safer fielders are getting better in each and every game."
Sunday's match would be the last game for India with a safety net of any kind - Bangladesh's loss on Saturday has guaranteed their path to the quarter-finals - yet an unconvincing performance against West Indies is, unlike one of India's practice sessions, not an option.