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MS Dhoni urges more playing opportunities for Associates but not against India

MS Dhoni talks about why the Associate nations need to be given more opportunities against the top teams.

MS Dhoni with UAE skipper Mohammad Tauqir

After romping to a 9-wicket win over United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a Pool B World Cup clash at Perth yesterday, Indian captain MS Dhoni has called for the Associates to be given more playing time against top teams outside of International Cricket Council (ICC) events, as it is the only way cricket could become a truly global sport.

A lot of the matches in the ongoing World Cup involving Associates have been extremely close affairs and seen a greater quality of cricket being exhibited than in the past, something which hasn’t escaped the 33-year-old’s attention. Dhoni acknowledged the significant improvement that teams like Afghanistan have made in the last 2-3 years and hoped that these teams would be given greater facilities and infrastructure to further encourage their development.

Important for cricket to become a global sport: Dhoni

Speaking after India’s 3rd consecutive win in the World Cup so far, Dhoni said: "If you see Afghanistan or some of the other teams, you can see a bit of improvement in their game every time they come and play. Whatever we have seen of a lot of the Associate nations, there has been a lot of improvement in their cricket. But we'll have to give them more opportunities and we have to make sure that the infrastructure in those countries gets better and better so more people can come and play cricket."

He added: "You have to see that cricket is developing as a sport because what's very important is you want cricket to be a global sport when it comes to participation. What's more important is rather than looking at it from a commercial point of view, what we have to make sure is where there's existence of the sport, it keeps on increasing there, and at the same time you look at some of the other countries where there's the prospect of playing cricket.

"I feel overall it's a win win situation, but what's most important is to make sure that if there's a bit of fire anywhere, you have to make sure it becomes a bush fire in terms of the intensity."

No time for India to play against the Associates: Dhoni

However, when asked whether teams like India would be willing to play against the Associates, Dhoni explained that it wouldn’t be possible for them to do so citing their extremely busy cricketing calendar.

"Not against India. I don't see even a few days off to play any more cricket than what we play. We can't, unless we play two games in one day, which is just not possible, because you want to keep the quality up.

"It's a difficult one. Yes, the Associate nations, if they can get a few more games, better scenario, good facilities, it will be good for them, but at the end of the day, it's like a circus where you want to play in front of people, you want to compete in the best scenarios. So we'll have to formulate a way, but please, not India. India can't play any more games.”

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