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‘No option but three pacers, two spinners’

Claiming to be short of a seamer all -rounder, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Monday said he has no option but to field three fast bowlers and two spinners in the five-pronged attack for the first ODI cricket match against Australia, here on Tuesday.

“Most likely it will be a 3-2 combination. We don’t really have a seaming all-rounder. Who the players are, we’ll have to wait and watch,” Dhoni said in the pre-match press conference. Barinder Sran is expected to make his international debut in the series as the team will miss the services of the dependable Mohammed Shami. “Shami is someone who can bowl with the new ball, in the middle overs and at the death. It’s always good to have that kind of a bowler and it’s sad to lose him. As far as the newcomers are concerned, we will definitely feature them in the tournament,” Dhoni added. The other question is the choice between Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Manish Pandey in the slot vacated due to Suresh Raina’s exclusion.  “We have to pick one of the two (Gurkeerat and Manish) to bat at No 6 and we have to see which batsman fits that slot.”

Dhoni feels playing at the top level demands a certain degree of flexibility, which is a key ingredient for success in all good teams. “If you see the success of the Indian team, we had quite a few players who could bat at different numbers and very few who have been successful at Nos 6 or 7. We’ve had openers in first-class cricket batting at No 3 and those at Nos 4 or 5 ended up being openers.” Maintaining that “rankings never mattered” to him, Dhoni said his focus will be on performance as always. “I have been asked this question many times and my answer is not going to change. It is the performance that takes care of the rankings.”

Dhoni felt that it is important for the youngsters to learn playing under pressure. “I feel how you handle pressure is more important than the talent aspect. That ultimately depends on the individual and his character. The more he plays the better he gets,” Dhoni said.

He admitted that the team does not know much about Aussie newcomers Joel Paris and Scot Boland but was all praise for Australia’s domestic structure. “Australian domestic cricket quality is very high, which means the players who come up have already got good exposure playing against people who are playing or have played international cricket. I feel that way Australian cricket is blessed,” said Dhoni.

With the Big Bash League on, the Indian skipper was asked of his plans to play in the fast-growing T20 league, he said, “It depends on the physical fitness and the will to carry on. If you’re part of the Indian cricket team for 10-15 years sometimes you feel you’ve played too much cricket. So, we’ll have to wait and watch,” Dhoni signed off.
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