The Telegraph
Sunday , March 30 , 2014
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Dhoni’s chance to experiment

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli, in Dhaka, on Saturday, the eve of India’s World T20 match against Australia. (AFP)

Dhaka: Given an opportunity, Darren Lehmann would have loved to do Chris Gayle’s favourite dance move — the Gangnam style. But such has been Australia’s performance in the World T20 that they face an imminent elimination even before meeting India on Sunday evening.

“We are in the entertainment business. If I could dance like Gayle, I would be dancing every night of the week,” said the Australian coach after witnessing the wild West Indies celebrations on Friday.

Lehmann has been duly credited with bringing back the fun element in the Australian dressing room that has brewed success. He has made it mandatory for one player to share a joke before every training session.

The grapevine has it that after his first team meeting as coach of Australia, he told the players: “No team meeting should last for more than 30 minutes. Let’s have a beer!”

Sadly, that formula hasn’t worked in this tournament. If Pakistan beat Bangladesh on Sunday afternoon, Australia’s return ticket will be confirmed before the start of their evening clash.

The Indians, who topped the ICC rankings on Friday, though don’t have any plans to join the party yet. As Ravichandran Ashwin said, they are taking one match at a time. Having confirmed a semi-final berth, their sights are fixed on the knock-out stages.

Ashwin is already finding similarities with their successful Champions Trophy campaign in England last year, and hoping things will fall into place. “There are lots, but there are smaller things which obviously nobody hears of. Those are all smaller things, superstitions that we carry. But there’s a lot that’s similar to the Champions Trophy,” said the off-spinner.

“We’re enjoying ourselves. For once, we’re not looking at the results. We’re not looking at what we need to achieve. If we’re lucky enough we’ll be here until April 6. That’s how we look at it. The camp is pretty upbeat in terms of having some good football. We’ve enjoyed ourselves,” Ashwin said.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have scored 289 of 389 runs that the Indians scored so far giving very little chance to the others. It wouldn’t also be a bad idea to give Ajinkya Rahane a chance while resting one of the regulars.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni perhaps could do with a change of strategy too. The Indians have so far preferred to chase, and it would be wise to try their hand out at batting first if Dhoni wins the toss again.

They have been content with chasing targets around the 130-run mark and setting one around 200 would boost the batsmen’s confidence ahead of the semi-final. Perhaps another test of India’s batting against a strong bowling attack!

Despite all their success, it will be interesting to see how the Indian spinners live up to the challenge of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Glen Maxwell. If India can maintain their unbeaten run, it gives them the chance to top the group and face the second-placed side from pool 1 in the semis.

Lehmann wasn’t sure if players like Daniel Christian and Cameron White would get a look-in on Sunday.

“I don’t know... I will speak to Rod (Marsh). He’s the selector with me here who is on duty. We would love to pick them, but at the end of the day, we are playing a game for the country… We would like to win, hence we would like to play our best team. And if those guys come in, they will be in the best XI and we will play them.”


India (likely): Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.

Australia (likely): Aaron Finch, David Warner, Shane Watson, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Hodge, James Faulkner, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Starc, Doug Bollinger, James Muirhead

Match starts: 7 pm (IST)