Stuart Binny and Shikhar Dhawan may have just secured their places; Ishant expected to be fit in 4 days
It appears that all-rounder Stuart Binny has cemented his World Cup spot after a couple of decent performances with bat and ball during the Carlton Mid ODI tri-series. Binny’ spot was the most contentious issue following the announcement of India’s World Cup 2015 squad earlier this month, with questions raised over nepotism, his inexperience and the value he can add to the team ahead of ignored players.
Of the two completed matches he has played in the series, he ended up as the leading run-getter in one (44 off 55 in Brisbane) and leading wicket-taker in another (3/33 in Perth). When asked if India will continue the ploy of giving the 30-year-old the first taste of the new ball during the marquee tournament, beginning on February 14, Dhoni said: “I think so, yes. With Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) struggling a bit, it just puts that added pressure on the bowling line-up. Frankly, we can’t afford to play with three fast bowlers and two spinners because our batting becomes just too light.
“If you lose the toss and you are batting on a surface that assists the fast bowlers, if you lose a couple of wickets, then you are just doing the catching up job. If you see the good sides, they bat quite deep.”
‘Team needs to bat deep’
Stressing on the importance of the lower order’s contribution with the bat, Dhoni said: “Even with the kind of batsmen that we have, we know they can bat but how they can bat at the first-class level is not how they will bat at the international level. That’s why we gave (Ravindra) Jadeja ample time and now slowly he has graduated to that level where he can do that job to some extent.
He added: “Axar (Patel) can bat but with more exposure and more matches, he will get better because international cricket is very different compared to the first-class level that we play. We need to get our batting strong. The lower-order contribution is something that is a key factor. We can’t really have four to five batsmen in the lower order that will get out quickly because you want to make the most of the 50 overs.”
‘Ishant will be fit in 4 days’
Ishant Sharma, after being declared fit for the team’s last match against Australia, was surprisingly ruled out again on Friday: a decision that raised quite a few eyebrows. Dhoni revealed that the team management had no idea that it (Ishant getting injured again) was coming, but they had no choice once they learnt about it.
He said: “You know he bowled in the nets yesterday, and after that he had a sore knee. Before that also, he was bowling but he was fine; by the time we came for the press conference, there was no niggle as such. This came to our notice by evening. The reason we didn’t want to push him is because the niggle may turn into an injury. According to the physio, he may be fit in the next four days.”
‘Good that Dhawan has got runs’
On opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, who showed signs of returning to form with a 65-ball 38 on a deck that assisted the pacers considerably, Dhoni said: “It’s good that he has got runs. If he had not got any kind of runs in this game, certainly he would have gone into the break putting a bit more pressure on himself.
“Now with this game, he will certainly take a lot of positives out of it because there was a bit of assistance for the fast bowlers, it was not an easy wicket to bat on initially. I felt he did good. The next step will be to capitalise on the kind of start he got. It will be for most of us to capitalise on starts, have wickets in hand and look to exploit.”