It’s all going according to plan for Dhoni & Co | cricket | Hindustan Times
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It’s all going according to plan for Dhoni & Co

Given their laidback approach in the nets and unconvincing performances, the Indian team's World Cup campaign has so far been frustrating for their passionate fans. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 20, 2011 01:33 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

Given their laidback approach in the nets and unconvincing performances, the Indian team's World Cup campaign has so far been frustrating for their passionate fans. For a high-profile tournament, MS Dhoni's boys looked to be taking it a bit too easy. There have been more rest days than training days, many of which have been optional.

The players have been allowed to choose their own practice drills, which include leisurely games of football and flashy, light-hearted celebrations on winning the training drills.

However, a well-placed source in the team management told the Hindustan Times that the Indian team's approach has been part of a well-thought out plan by the team management for the high-pressure event.

And that everything has worked according to plan. For all the concerns raised, Team India has still qualified for the quarter-final with a game to spare.

"It's a long tournament and we had divided it into two halves. The first part was for the league stage and the second for the knockout. We were careful to have the players in a relaxed state and not get affected by the pressure," the source said.

"From the outside, it may have looked like we are taking it easy but that was our aim. Mental fatigue at the end of the season is the biggest challenge and we had factored it in our game plan. The aim of the league stage was to qualify and we wanted to balance the pressure aspect and keep the players fresh for the main end of the tournament. "The main tournament starts now, that is the knockout phase. It is going to be a real pressure game," he said.

"The key is not to allow panic to set in at any stage, because the big stage is all about handling pressure and whoever panics will lose the plot."

The four quarterfinal places from group B were finalised on Saturday when South Africa knocked out Bangladesh to top the table and help India, England and West Indies to take the next three spots. The Indian team's performance has come under scrutiny as they have failed to dominate the opposition after being rated as strong favourites in home conditions.

The Men in Blue played below par in all the three departments — batting, bowling and fielding — but did enough to make the knock-outs. Their bowling has come under flak for failing to defend 300 plus totals, the middle-order has played inconsistently and the standard of fielding has been among the worst in the tournament.