| Rohit Sharma (from left), Ashok Dinda, Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh in Pune, on Wednesday, the eve of India’s first T20 match against England. (PTI) |
Pune: Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been known as a smart captain. Agreed, that few of his moves in the just-concluded Test series against England were questionable, but the man who has led India to two World Cup triumphs is still very much smart in his ways.
On the eve of the first T20 of the two-match series against the Englishmen, Dhoni was asked for his views about split captaincy — an idea that is being debated upon widely as an aftermath of the 1-2 Test series loss. But the India captain ducked the tricky question in the smartest of manners.
“Your question on my view about split captaincy is good, but let’s stick to the T20 format as we have a T20 game on Thursday,” Dhoni said during the media conference.
“Before the start of an important series, I don’t want to comment on that… Because when it comes to Indian cricket, if it’s not going the right way, questions pop up about several issues… About captaincy, senior players, junior players, the kind of talent we have got, the bench strength we have... Everything will pop up and if you keep answering, I think, we will not have enough time,” he added.
His calls for not dealing too much with the past might sound cliched, but given the sorry state that the Indian team have been in of late, one has to say that sticking to the present is, probably, the best option.
“No point looking too much into the past… I have always said whether you do well or bad, it is important to stick to the present… The T20 format is very different… So let’s stick to it,” Dhoni said.
“It’s a completely different format, so I don’t think there’s any point carrying anything from the Test series. It’s a very different format,” he reiterated.
Accepting that the Test series debacle was disappointing, Dhoni, however, pointed out that there were some positives to count upon. “It was disappointing that we did not win the series… But in the last Test, in Nagpur, we did pretty well. The wicket was quite flat... Still, there were plenty of positives from the series. Youngsters like Cheteshwar Pujara, who I think is the future for us along with Virat Kohli, did well… You saw the bowlers did well, especially the spinners, when there was not much assistance from the wicket.”
On the dew factor, which will surely play a part in deciding the course of the match at this time of the year, Dhoni said: “The conditions may be slightly different this time of the year, with a bit of dew… Which may mean the spinners may not be that effective, but these are all speculations. And England are a balanced side irrespective of the format.”
According to Dhoni, India-England T20 history wouldn’t count much. “We have won a few games and lost a few against England... In this format, it’s just about a couple of players really changing the game. It’s about enjoying the game, just getting that one run or making that one run-out which changes the game. I don’t think it’s proper to analyse the patterns in this format,” he said.
On India having a chance to go atop the T20 rankings, provided they do well in the T20 matches against England and Pakistan, Dhoni said: “We are never bothered about the rankings... If we do well on the field, the rankings take care of themselves. It’s like I am repeating myself, but that’s what I have always said.”
But while Dhoni refuses to look back at the Test series, counterpart Eoin Morgan wants to draw inspiration from England’s splendid show in the longest format. The England stand-in captain said: “As you have seen in the past, whenever the Test side has done well, it has a knock-on effect… So we will certainly be looking to win the T20 games and take confidence from the Test side,” the 26-year-old said.
Again, while for India restoring some of the lost pride is the agenda, for the Englishmen the T20s are simply an opportunity to perform. “It’s a big opportunity for guys like myself, Bressie (Tim Bresnan) and Samit (Patel) to perform again… Performing under pressure is what the selectors want to see,” Morgan said.
Like India, the England T20 squad is mostly made up of fresh and young players. That’s defienitely an advantage, thinks Morgan.
“The new guys generally bring a bit more energy… The fact that the team has changed so drastically, their energy is evident around the (team) hotel at the moment. So we have to pick that and take it into the game. My expectations from the guys are quite simple… Show courage and skill,” Morgan said.