MS Dhoni open to experimenting more ahead of the World T20; promises to give Yuvraj more opportunities
India’s limited-overs skipper MS Dhoni said that he was not afraid to experimenting even more ahead of the World T20 after Hardik Pandya’s cameo after coming into bat at No 5 and Jasprit Bumrah’s short burst after being handed the ball as late as the 15th over of the Sri Lankan innings stole the headlines during the Ranchi T20I on Friday.
The 34-year-old was at his jovial best in the post-match press conference in his hometown after India crushed Sri Lanka by 69 runs in the 2nd T20I to take the three-match series into the final match at Vishakapattanam on Sunday.
Team Indian manager Ravi Shastri had recently talked of trying out different combinations ahead of the T20 World Cup and Dhoni echoed similar sentiments after his moves worked out amazingly well for the Men in Blue.
"Experimenting is a word banned from Indian cricket, but yes we're trying different things. Our top order has done well, so we're trying to give everyone an opportunity whenever possible," Dhoni said.
Talking about Pandya’s knock of 27 from just 12 balls, Dhoni said that he was not surprised by how well the Mumbai Indians all-rounder batted.
“It was an opportunity for him to see international cricket closely," Dhoni said, as reported by ESPNCricinfo. "This is what he is known for. He can go in and play the big shots straightaway. So in the coming games whenever we give some opportunity, we would like to give every player some kind of batting so that going into the T20 World Cup, everyone has some kind of exposure when it comes to batting.”
The experiments continued throughout the match as part-timers Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina were handed the ball early on while Bumrah was only given a crack only in the 15th over. However, the move earned praise from the commentators and fans alike after the 22-year-old bowled yorkers at will thus raising hopes that India could well and truly have a death-overs specialist in their ranks.
Dhoni said that while it is almost certain that all the front-line bowlers get a chance to bowl in a T20 game, it was also necessary to mix and match ahead of a crucial tournament such as the World T20.
“Bowling, everyone gets a chance to bowl. A lot of times you always experiment with bowling. What happens with batting is that you want to win games and you also want to give an individual a fair amount of time in the middle. It does not always go with the plan.
“Definitely in the coming games, if there is a chance of exposing someone to this kind of an exposure so that going into the T20 World Cup they know what their roles and responsibilities are," he said.
“Nobody thinks about me”, quips Dhoni when asked about batting opportunities for Yuvraj
While Pandya’s batting promotions did work wonders for Team India, fan-favourite Yuvraj Singh’s wait for a proper time out in the middle continued as he was dismissed for a first-ball duck that handed Thisara Perera a hat-trick. Dhoni responded wittily to the questions raised by the reporters on the topic but promised that he will try to give the 34-year-old more opportunities with the bat.
"Nobody thinks about me. I also keep going up and down,” Dhoni remarked, spreading smiles in the conference room. "But yes you are right. When a match starts, Yuvi is slotted in at No 5. It is difficult to get him to bat at a higher position than that. Because the top four - the openers, No. 3 is Virat Kohli, No. 4 is Suresh Raina. If you look at these four, their record in India and overseas is extraordinary. It becomes slightly difficult.”
Dhoni said that the issue was compounded by the fact that Yuvraj was a proper batsman and not a slogger who can come in right away and start hitting from the word go.
"Yes, Yuvraj Singh is back in the team. We wish to give him more batting. But at the same time, since I have played with Yuvi a lot, I know it is difficult for him to go and straightaway start hitting in the 17th or 18th over. He's like a proper batsman who can hit.
"Okay, he can start early. Whenever he bats in the slog, he has found it difficult. I will try to give him more opportunity in the upcoming games. But again we want to win games. That will also be our priority. We will see how it goes," Dhoni said.
Continuing the jovial mood, Dhoni had this to say when asked why his trademark helicopter shot was not being seen much nowadays.
"If they bowl me, bouncers, the only way I can play the helicopter shot is if I stand on a stool," Dhoni said.