I would like to improve my performances overseas, says Dhoni
Skipper MS Dhoni feels Stuart Binny can be a handy all-rounder for India in ODIs if he lives up to expectations. Harish Kotian reports.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday admitted his batting needs to improve in overseas Test matches following a poor showing in South Africa.
Dhoni scored just 87 runs in four innings in South Africa and continued his dismal showing away from home, which includes just one fifty in 10 innings since December 2011.
“As far as my performance is concerned, I would definitely like to improve my performance, especially when touring abroad,” he said in Mumbai, on the eve of the team’s departure for New Zealand.
India will play five One-Day Internationals and two Test matches, starting with the first ODI on January 19.
India's captain also called up on the lower order to work on their batting and spend more time at the wicket, if not score some runs.
“If I am batting at seven and I lose the batsmen at the other end, and I am batting with the tail, and if they don’t spend time enough time in the middle then more often than not I go for my shots.
“Like in South Africa, I remember in one game there were eight players on the boundary looking for that big shot; that is something we want to improve.
“We want our 8, 9, 10 and 11 to spend some time in the middle so that we can still look to get, I am not saying 100 runs but atleast 30 to 50 runs, and that in turn will really add to the score that we get,” he added.
Image: MS Dhoni
Photographs: Tim Wimborne/Reuters
'Stuart is someone who's interesting'
He said Stuart Binny, who got his maiden call-up to the ODI team, can be a handy option with his ability to swing the ball and score runs lower down the order.
“Stuart is someone who’s interesting. He looks like he has got swing. We often talk in cricketing terms that some guys can just swing the ball naturally. What we have to see is that at most of the international venues the wickets are quite flat, especially for the ODIs.
“And that’s the time we’ll have to see how effective he can really be, to see whether we can feature him as a third pacer who can bowl.
"As of now, he is someone who can definitely swing the ball and also has the batting ability to come down the order and score runs. It’s exciting. He might not be comparable with some of the top all-rounders. He might not bowl at 135 [kph]-plus, but if he can do the job it will be great,” he said.
Image: Stuart Binny
Good to have Aaron back in the side
Dhoni also seemed excited about the inclusion of pacer Varun Aaron, who made a comeback to the Indian ODI team after a long injury lay-off following good performances in domestic cricket.
“It’s good that Varun Aaron has come back after a long injury break. He is fit now. He’s done well in the domestic season. It is exciting. The individuals have to step up when you play with the new rules. You need to be aware of your bowling and you need to be confident that you can bowl with only four fielders out.
“We have seen that with the new rules, even the top bowlers in the world have had to bowl with fine-leg and third-man in the circle. You’ll have to be comfortable about your own bowling and you really need to know your strengths well. We’ll have to wait and watch and see how they perform under pressure,” he said.
Image: Varun Aaron
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters
Dhoni backs BCCI's decision to rest ODI players for Ranjis
A few former India cricketers like Rahul Dravid and Sunil Gavaskar were in favour of India’s ODI players playing in the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals for their respective teams before leaving for New Zealand.
But Dhoni believes that the BCCI was justified in their decision of not releasing them for the matches since they deserved a break between the recently-concluded tour of South Africa and the upcoming series in New Zealand.
“We couldn’t have banked on the matches finishing a day earlier. When a team is going abroad, it’s always better that everyone goes together. You also have to see that we had only a 10-day break between the last tour (South Africa) and now.
“And it is very important that you get a break when you are playing so much of cricket; it keeps you mentally fresh. The physical aspect you can deal with. It was a good decision to give the players some off time so that we prepare well for the New Zealand series. It’s good if we can provide that flexibility.
“There are a number of them in this squad who play for different states and it would have been a case of them playing today when the team’s scheduled to leave,” he said.
Dhoni also paid tribute to the Indian team’s long-standing sponsors Sahara India Pariwar, who have been replaced by Star India, starting with the New Zealand tour.
“Sahara was with us for a long time and they supported us as our main sponsor. They have been with the Indian team even before I made by debut. Star is now actively involved with cricket, but Sahara has done a lot not only for cricket and also for other sports,” he said.
Image: MS Dhoni
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com