The Telegraph
Saturday , March 15 , 2014
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‘Experience in IPL will help’

- Have to be at our best throughout: Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Dhaka: India might not have played any T20 International in the last five months, but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni feels his side can bank on the Indian Premier League experience to do well in the ICC World T20.

India have played only five T20 internationals since the last World T20 in Sri Lanka in 2012. In fact, they played only one Twenty20 International in 2013 — in October at Rajkot against Australia.

Most of the other countries competing in the tournament have played more T20s in the recent months.

“We have played a lot of Twenty20 matches. You may say they were not T20 Internationals. All the players in the team have played a lot of T20 matches in the IPL,” Dhoni, who left India without holding the customary pre-departure media interaction, said at a press conference here on Friday.

“In IPL we have played with the best players and the standard there is as high as international standards… So that really amounts to the experience we need.

“The conditions in Bangladesh are similar to those in India and so the IPL experience will help us,” he said.

“Most of the teams, if you see, don't play a lot of T20s,” Dhoni said.

“Especially with the kind of schedule we have, I don't think we'll be able to accommodate more than one or two T20s (per series). That is something that I will always face.”

Dhoni said the two warm-up games — against Sri Lanka on March 17 and against England on March 19 — will also give his side an opportunity to try out various combinations.

“We will be playing two warm-up matches also, and we will try out all the players in the squad for various combinations. All the players will get a chance and we will get the opportunity to know what is the best for the team,” he said.

He said each match of the World T20 will be important and his players will have to be on their toes throughout the tournament.

Since winning the inaugural World T20 in 2007, India have failed to make the semi-finals in each of the next three editions.

In 2012, despite losing just one out their five games, India failed to make the final four because they fell short on the net run-rate.

Dhoni said their experience was an example of how no team can afford to lose even a single game, for it could affect their chances of qualifying.

“Our group is quite a competitive one, so all the matches will be important.

In the last T20 World Cup, we lost just one match, but still were out of the tournament. So every match is important and we have to be at our best throughout,” Dhoni said.

India’s performance have dipped in recent times with the team failing to register a single win in the disastrous tours of South Africa and New Zealand.

In one-dayers too, India failed to reach the final of the Asia Cup and Dhoni admitted that their performances were not up to the mark. He, however, exuded confidence that it will not affect their showing in the World T20.

“I think we have had to endure tough times recently, but even in these situations it’s not like we hadn’t played good cricket,” Dhoni said.

“In the last two away series (against South Africa and New Zealand) we have shown that we have talent though we lost both the series. So I think we are on the way up, and that’s where you want to be. There is always pressure.

“T20 is a completely different format. I don’t think it will have a direct effect on T20 performance.”

The 32-year-old had suffered a side strain injury in New Zealand and missed out of the recent Asia Cup in Bangladesh and Dhoni said it was a good two-week break from the hectic international schedule.

“For me, the positive side was to get a bit of rest. I was at home with no work. It was something that I would appreciate.

“You don’t want to get injured and miss a series. So overall, a good 10-12 days off,” he said.

Former champions India will open their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on March 21 at Mirpur in a Super 10 game and then take on the West Indies on March 23 at the same venue.

Dhoni said in this format there are no favourites and even the minnows can topple the big Test playing nations on a given day. “In this format, every team is a worthy opponent. It doesn’t really matter if it is a Test playing nation, it is one format where all teams are pretty equal,” he said.

“It all boils down to how you execute your plan. Every team have a string of big hitters and bowlers who can have an impact on the game. In this format, it is all about what you do in those three hours, so every team has their fair amount of chance.”

Dhoni will also hope to improve his personal record in the tournament. The Team India captain is yet to score his maiden half-century in T20 Internationals. His highest is 48 not out against Australia.