Perth — A regular saviour under tough circumstances for the Indian cricket team, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni says he also feels the pressure like others but manages the rescue acts as he knows how to get out of potentially dangerous situations.
Dhoni's unbeaten 45 was the cornerstone of India's patchy four-wicket win against the West Indies in a World Cup pool match at the WACA yesterday.
"Everyone thinks, I don't feel any pressure. I feel the same pressure as anyone else. It's just that I have been in those situations a lot, so I know how to get out of that situation. But it's not that I will always succeed. But when you know ways to wriggle out, it becomes easier," the skipper was at his pragmatic best as he spoke to the media in what was his longest interaction in recent times.
For someone who announced his arrival at the big stage as a 'Slam Bang Dasher', Dhoni has improvised his game a lot in the last decade and is now an acclaimed finisher in limited overs cricket.
"My batting, I have tuned it up a lot after the 2006 tour of Pakistan. I have consistently batted lower down after that. My slot was after 30 overs. I had to improvise according to the demands. There were times when we were batting first and I went for the big shots. Again while chasing, I had the job to hit out or stabilise. I have never batted with a rigid mindset. I have always batted according to the demands of the team and the corresponding situations. Because of that, I have benefitted. Very satisfying, so long as the team wins, it is all good." said Dhoni, as he dissected his own game and explained the tricky situation that the team was in yesterday once the top-order flopped in totality.
"It was good for us that the lower middle-order got a chance to bat because you want to keep scoring runs. Whatever be the opportunities, you always feel a few more runs are better. It was a good opportunity as there was a bit of pressure. "The number at which I bat, obviously, there is pressure. Either that of last 5-7 overs while batting first or like today, a pressure of chasing. It was a realistic scenario, I had to have partnerships with the lower-order," Dhoni said.
"I had a partnership with Ashwin today. The result was good. The good thing is at Nos 6 and 7 they are basically two specific roles. Either just get-out and start swinging your bat as the top-order has given you a good platform or else the top-order is out, so play a holding game."
"In both instances, there is pressure because making runs is difficult. We have to accept that the side boundaries are big and not easy to hit sixes as there is pace off the pitch. So what we have to do is to manoeuvre the ball, use the pace, pick up the gaps and take the twos or play innovative shots," Dhoni explained.
The good thing according to Dhoni is that now all the top-seven batsmen have got a decent hit in the middle. "Hopefully, in future, if we keep getting opportunities in the remaining matches, then by the time quarter-final starts, your top seven will have got some time throughout the tournament. It is very tough to hit out from ball one and it is very difficult even for me, I don't really like it. But somebody has to do it so that others can bat in their perfect slots," he said.
Dhoni also gave a peek into how his mind works when he bats with tail-enders. "If I am batting, then I try and give them as much information as possible. Let them know what I think what the opposition bowler is doing. Whether the ball is reversing and things like that. You give them confidence and tell them stuff like it doesn't look as fast as one finds it from outside. Because once you go inside, you know the realistic pace, the bounce.”
"If you pass on informations like these to people for whom batting is not a strength, they feel comfortable and after sometime, they start rotating the strike. Our 9, 10 and 11 can bat a bit and it is very important that when they get batting. They might need to score eight runs off the last over in a knock-out game, so better to be prepared," the skipper concluded.
Dhoni also feels that a big deal is made out of Suresh Raina's susceptibility to short-pitched bowling and stressed that the UP lad is the best bet to bat at No.5 since Yuvraj Singh vacated that slot. Asked about Raina's same mode of dismissal as he failed to cope with a rising delivery when he was caught behind off Dwayne Smith for 22 against West Indies, Dhoni strongly defended the left-hander's case. "It's the media that makes a big deal of this. Batsmen from other countries also get out to the short-pitched deliveries but it is something that is put only on our head he (Raina) is the one who gets out to the short ball, bowl short to him. I think he is batting well," said Dhoni after India's four-wicket win against West Indies at WACA.
Dhoni also emphasised the need to have Raina at the No.5 position for India's plans after Yuvraj Singh consistently did well in that position. "Just look at the history of Indian cricket and the number of people who have batted at No.5 and just check how many have been successful? Yuvraj Singh must be the only player, who did consistently well for us and then he got promoted to bat at No 4. Otherwise, we have kept shuffling people. You will have to ask some of the batsmen who have batted at that number Virat has batted at that number, Rohit has batted, and nobody has been really successful.
"So Raina is the best that we have got and we need to back him. Because if you don't back him, the new guy who comes, he will be like, let me bat for myself and that's not a good habit to grow. We don't want that to happen in our team."
He then explained what he means by batting for selfish reasons. "If you are batting in the 40th over, how much can you score? And if you get out, you will get out for 20-25 runs. So at the end of the third game, we would hear things like, "he is not scoring, he is out of form, he is only making 20 runs! "But that's the point where the strike-rate is more important because if you keep emphasising this point, then the batsman starts playing for himself. He can think "Yaar, why should I play an extra shot and get out? Already 45 overs have gone, let me stay 30 not out and be happy. But we don't want to develop that habit. We are trying to make as many runs as possible because no score is a safe score in modern cricket. If you make 300, try to push it to 305 and so on," he said.