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‘We need an all-rounder’

- We will have to play smart cricket, says Dhoni
Ashok Dinda and Shami Ahmed, at the Eden on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in search of a genuine, seaming all-rounder.

On the eve of the India-Pakistan one-dayer at the Eden, Dhoni admitted that the new rules have made it difficult for the part-timers to fill in the fifth bowler’s slot.

Asked if he was considering playing five bowlers given his current bowling line-up’s collective inexperience, Dhoni said: “It’s a catch-22 situation… At the end of the day, you have to think whether six batsmen will be enough or not… Some may think it’s not. So you will have to assess everything.

“Of course, it’s difficult to expect the part-timers to do the job… We don’t have a seaming genuine all-rounder who can really bring that balance in the side. Lower order’s contribution is also important.”

The captain also agreed that it’s a must-win situation for them. “It’s an important game… We are a bit under pressure, a must-win situation… A three-game series is tough, you can’t really let the opposition go too far ahead.”

Explaining his team’s inconsistent performances, he said: “We are going through a transition period… Both in the Tests or ODIs… If you see, most of our main bowlers, who are regularly a part of the team, are injured. That means you are lacking a bit of experience. Right now, with the fresh bowlers, and also the new rules, it’s a bit difficult.”

Picking out batting as a problem area, he said: “Our batting has been a bit of a problem… That’s one area where we should have been really good. But that’s cricket… I think it’s the right time for all the batsmen to come back to form and score runs. The formats have been different in our last few games… I can take some positives out of them. It’s a fresh start and we have to stick to the basics. We will have to play smart cricket.”

Thursday’s match is scheduled for a 12-noon start and Dhoni was quite happy about it. “Yes, I’m happy with a 12 noon start… Because then the toss doesn’t become vital and the pitch remains quite the same through out the match.

“The thing is that you have to play good cricket to win the match and you can’t rely too much on the toss. So, a 12-noon start is a good start, because that would negate the dew factor… If you lose the toss, on most times the side batting second will win. A 12-noon start provides good balance and the side that plays better cricket wins,” Dhoni said.

The Eden pitch has been in news often — mostly for wrong reasons — and Dhoni had even termed it “ugly” a year back. Reminded about that, the captain quipped: “Haven’t seen the wicket yet… But if we compare that wicket with the practice pitch we have got this time, I would say the practice strip is like Miss Universe.”

He also called for a different approach to deal with the new rules. “It’s important to get used to the new rules and settle down as a team. As a batsman, once you realise there will be five fielders inside, the tendency is to play big shots. So it’s very important to treat every delivery according to merit. One should also not look for a very big score, because under the new rules, if you have wickets in hand, you can get a lot of runs in the last few overs,” Dhoni said.

Under fire from several quarters, the Indian captain dealt with the issue with a straight bat. “You have to respect everyone’s view… My job is to play cricket and help the youngsters to improve. We all know what the problem is, but finding the solution is more difficult than pointing out the problem. So we are only concerned about how we can improve ourselves,” Dhoni said.