India v Pakistan, World T20, Group 2, Dhaka

Intensity, but not acrimony - Dhoni

Abhishek Purohit in Dhaka

March 20, 2014

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A
'India-Pakistan rivalry has mellowed down' - Dhoni

India and Pakistan will kick off the Super 10 stage of the World T20 on Friday with a night game in Mirpur. Less than three weeks ago, at the same ground, they produced a thriller in the Asia Cup, a game that was decided by Shahid Afridi's successive sixes in the last over with last man Junaid Khan for company. MS Dhoni said the two sides continued to give their fans spirited contests but felt that the acrimony of the past, which he had seen while growing up, had gone down in recent years.

"The intensity is there of course. It is something that you cannot really take away from the game irrespective of which opposition you are playing," Dhoni said. "India-Pakistan matches always capture the imagination of people from either side. I feel it has mellowed down to some extent, whatever the reason maybe, you do not see many altercations on the field. But still you see very competitive cricket which I feel is very important.


Ajinkya Rahane walks back for 23, India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur, March 2, 2014
'You do not see many altercations on the field. But still you see very competitive cricket which I feel is very important' © AFP
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"Growing up, I used to watch some of the last-generation people when they were playing cricket, it used to get quite tense. There were plenty of things happening apart from cricket on the field. We used to enjoy it as kids. I am glad that it doesn't really happen anymore because when you talk about promoting cricket and promoting in the right ways, I think more often than not it is played in the right spirit."

India have never lost to Pakistan in a World Cup or World T20, but Dhoni did not believe that would have any bearing on Friday's encounter. "A lot of people talk about it but what is important is what kind of cricket you are playing on that particular day. All the teams that are participating, they have got a fantastic side. What this format does is, the difference between the best sides and the not-so-good sides is very narrow. Even the [teams] who qualify, you see they have also got the talent to upset some of the big sides, which means we have to play good cricket and that is what it is all about. It is not really about the stats or what you have achieved in the past."

Dhoni also did not want India to focus too much on the Pakistan players individually, but on the opposition side as a whole. However, he praised the skills of Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal. "If you see Gul he has been a fantastic bowler for them. I still remember the 2007 World T20. He was someone who would start bowling from the 11th-12th over and continue till the death overs. So he has been someone who has been very consistent for them. It is not only him, there are other bowlers also who are quite dangerous.

"Ajmal is a very good bowler. It is not as if he is dangerous against one particular nation. I think overall he is still a bowler against whom you cannot score freely. And the way Pakistan use him, they make sure you try to go for runs against him if he bowls in the slog overs or in the first six overs... He is still dangerous not only against us but if you see all the international teams, they have had difficulty on an average in scoring freely against him.

"At the same time, they have got a batting line-up which has scored very freely. We will be planning about the whole team, not about the individuals."

When asked about the presence of allrounders in the Pakistan side, such as Hafeez and Afridi, Dhoni said some teams were "blessed" to have players with dual skills. "The more allrounders you have, the more difficult it becomes for the opposition. The reason being, if you have players who can bat and bowl, and if they are proper allrounders - they may be spinning or fast-bowling allrounders - they add to the strength of the team. You have the option of playing with more than five bowlers if you want to, and still have the same batting and bowling strength. It always adds on. I feel some of the sides are blessed when it comes to having allrounders."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by vkumar_086 on (March 21, 2014, 15:06 GMT)

@Sundar Rangan....as i already told, Afridi will play such innings once in a blue moon....he out for merely 8 runs....India was missing Dhoni's tactics in Asia cup...now he is a fresh guy to face any other team...see India's death bowling tremendously improved....India is well ahead right at the moment.....131 is par below score (less than 8 runs which they score in previous T20 world cup against India) for Indian batting line up....Pak is always under pressure when they play against India in world cups....a psychological edge, and India benefited from that

Posted by vkumar_086 on (March 21, 2014, 14:52 GMT)

@Sundar Rangan....as i already told, Afridi will play such innings once in a blue moon....he out for merely 8 runs....India was missing Dhoni's tactics in Asia cup...now he is a fresh guy to face any other team...see India's death bowling tremendously improved....India is well ahead right at the moment.....131 is par below score (less than 8 runs which they score in previous T20 world cup against India) for Indian batting line up....Pak is always under pressure when they play against India in world cups....a psychological edge, and India benefited from that

Posted by vkumar_086 on (March 21, 2014, 13:38 GMT)

@Sundar Rangan...Afridi plays such innings once in a blue moon...and one or two times in a year...and this year, he already played two such innings, so there will be no fear for India bowlers....moreover we got Dhoni, Raina, Yuvi back in team...we have not defeated in world cups against Pak (8-0), the best record in world cup and no other team has such record against any other teams....so obviously India has an edge over Pakistan....but i wish both teams ATB...

Posted by Saj_80 on (March 21, 2014, 12:49 GMT)

Its funny how much we talk about skills of individuals when it comes to pak vs ind game. However, i think the biggest difference in Indian team of today compare to india of 80/90s is their mentality (credited partly to Ganguly and mainly to Dhoni). I think the match will be decided on how 2 captains will excute their plan. Hence, Dhoni has an edge over Hafeez. Unless pakistan bats first a setup a huge target, india should be considered favorites just because they got dhoni to execute his killer plan (with calmness).. I am a pakistani fan btw..:)

Posted by   on (March 21, 2014, 9:37 GMT)

I hope Indian bowlers learn to forget Afridi's last over assault on Ashwin in the Asia Cup match. If they don't quickly forget that, they will be playing with a nervousness seen only during the nineties in Azharuddin era.

Posted by Andy83 on (March 21, 2014, 7:53 GMT)

I will have the following comments posted by a fellow member closely evaluated right after the match. Club bowlers haa? Pakistani bowlers are best in the business , indian fast bowlers are just like club bowlers in Pakistan ... Pakistan is favorite for today's match

Posted by   on (March 21, 2014, 7:41 GMT)

I always regard Dhoni for his balanced views about his opponents. More importantly he is much focused on his job rather than depending on speculations. As a Pakistani, I give Dhoni full marks for his valuable contribution to the success of India in every big tournament.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2014, 7:03 GMT)

Pakistani bowlers are best in the business , indian fast bowlers are just like club bowlers in Pakistan ... Pakistan is favorite for today's match

Posted by vkumar_086 on (March 21, 2014, 6:57 GMT)

@Khurram S Chaudhry....im observing your comments since from Asia cup....till now i have not seen any rash comments from you (even when Pak is defeated)....this shows the respect and love that you have towards cricket...today still cricket is considered as gentlemen game, its because of fans like you.....may god bless you dear from an Indian fan

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