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Bowling’s still an area of concern: Captain Dhoni

Virat Kohli, in Mirpur, on Thursday

Dhaka: India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Thursday said his bowlers need to bowl well at the death and hoped that the batsmen would give the Mohammed Shamis more than the par score on board.

“Bowling is still an area of concern if you compare it to our batting. Getting off to a good start is something that is really important for us.

“If we have wickets in hand, we have seen in the past that we can score maybe 10-15 runs more than what can be a par score. In Twenty20, 10-15 runs really matter. Overall if we bowl well at the death and bat well throughout, we have a very good chance,” Dhoni said at the pre-match media conference.

Excerpts

On the positives from warm-ups

Overall we have achieved a lot. We wanted to give the guys who were not part of the Asia Cup a fair time in the middle and I was quite happy with the way Yuvraj (Singh) and (Suresh) Raina performed.. Raina contributed with his bowling too. We achieved whatever we wanted to from the warm-up games. But then when the real action begins you won’t have the luxury of playing 15 players!

Whether there’s any specific area where the team should focus

Bowling is still an area of concern if you compare it to our batting. Getting off to a good start is something that is really important for us. If we have wickets in hand, we have seen in the past that we can score maybe 10-15 runs more than what can be a par score. In Twenty20, 10-15 runs really matter. Overall if we bowl well at the death and bat well throughout, we have a very good chance.

On Indian bowlers’ lack of T20I exposure

If you talk about international T20s, our fast bowlers have not played much. But they have spent a lot of time in the IPL where the conditions are a bit similar… So I think to some extent that will help. Overall when it comes to contribution, we would want to bowl well with the new ball.

Whether Ajinkya Rahane will come in as an opener

At this point in time it is still under consideration. We will take a call on Friday.

On India being placed in a difficult group

Yes, it is a tough group. So we will have to do well in each and every game. Every team is as good as the other… This is what this format brings. It is exciting and at the same time more often than not the teams are balanced and they can beat each other.

With so much happening around him, whether he and Team India are staying focused

What is happening around me? Tell me. When you are part of the Indian team, plenty of things go on around you… Irrespective of whether you are doing well or not on the field… So I think it is a part and parcel of Indian cricket. And most of the players are used to it.

Whether Shahid Afridi’s sixes against India in the recently-concluded Asia Cup will have a bearing on Friday’s match

No… I saw the match on television. The second six, I thought it had gone to a fielder, but later on I realised it had crossed the boundary! It was an exciting game, though.

On the Umar Gul factor

Gul he has been a fantastic bowler for Pakistan. I still remember the 2007 T20 World Cup. 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. But we are thinking of Pakistan as a team and not planning about one individual.

The Saeed Ajmal factor

Ajmal is a very good bowler. He is 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.

He is still dangerous not only against us but if you see all the international teams, they have had difficulty in dealing with Ajmal.

His take on the Pak all-rounders

The more all-rounders you have the more difficult it becomes for the opposition… The reason being if you have proper all-rounders they add to the strength of the team… It always gives a captain more options. I feel some of the sides are blessed when it comes to having all-rounders.

On India’s unbeaten record against Pakistan in the limited-over World Cups…

A lot of people talk about it, but what is important is what kind of cricket you are playing on a particular day. It is not about the statistics or what you have achieved in the past. In T20, the difference between the best sides and the not-so-good sides is very narrow. Even the ones who qualify… They also have the talent to upset big teams… This means we have to play good cricket throughout and that is what it is all about.

On the Indo-Pak rivalry…

The intensity is mind-boggling. An India versus Pakistan match always captures the imagination of people from both the sides. I feel it has mellowed down to some extent… Whatever the reason maybe, you do not see many altercations on the field. When you talk about promoting cricket, I think more often than not it is played in the right spirit.