India captain heaped praise on Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya for their knocks that eventually bailed out the team after there were in a stiff situation in the first 10 overs. Given how different the pitch at Mirpur was,
Dhoni felt that Sharma’s batting was special. “I think overall the wicket was difficult. Rohit’s batting was special because we needed a partnership. Overall if you see, he used the pace of the bowler where they were bowling back of a length so he played a few cuts shots and he actually exploited the field more often than not. That was the kind of batting really needed,” said Dhoni after India’s 45-run win against Bangladesh on Wednesday.
“He made sure he gave a little more strike to Hardik when he started hitting and he stayed till the end. Because of Hardik we got those extra 10-15 runs otherwise we were thinking a score of 140 would have been a very good score.”
Dhoni said he doesn’t want to go overboard with Pandya since he is yet to be tested in the 50-overs format but whatever glimpse the youngster has given is encouraging. Asked what directions were given to Pandya before he went in, Dhoni said, “You don’t need to tell him. He knows one thing --- hit the ball. Every time he goes to bat, he wants to clear the boundary. The more games he plays, the better he will get, but definitely he has the skill. It’s something that’s very difficult to have, that skill to clear boundaries right from the very first delivery.”
Pandya’s all-round performance will also help the team settle in this format easily. “It’s good to see him bowl four overs because it also gives us a lot of strength. It means that you have the three fast bowlers in the team. At the same time you also have two proper spinners and the part-timers as well. Even if you have dew you don’t have to change the team because you know every base is covered,” said Dhoni.
Yuvraj Singh didn’t exactly have a great game but Dhoni is willing to give him time. “I think the approach was good because all of a sudden you don’t want to go out there when you get a chance to bat thinking that you want to do all these things. What’s important is to play the delivery according to the merit. I feel that was what he was doing. Today he played a fabulous shot through the mid-off region and I think that’s the kind of batting that’s really needed from him,” said Dhoni.
“It’s important for him to score runs, even if it is 15 runs, 12 runs or 20 runs, that will give him a lot of confidence and we all know once he’s confident he’s a completely different player and also to expect him to score big in the very first opportunity that he gets, or any other player gets, is very difficult. I feel he’ll need a bit of time and an opportunity like this is always going to be good for him. It doesn’t really matter how many he has scored but the time he spends in the middle will be something that is very crucial not only for him but also for the team. Few more games like these will help him out.”
In the case of another veteran Ashish Nehra, Dhoni sounded resolved in making him play as long as possible in this format. “The beauty of Ashish Nehra is he knows what he needs to do to be 100% on the field. One of the major concerns about him was his fitness. He had the tendency of breaking down. But he knows what he needs to do. He has a fixed routine and whatever happens he follows that and that’s the reason he’s so disciplined and still playing today. He’s what 36 or 37 years. The format also suits him,” said Dhoni.
“It will be slightly difficult for him to play the 50-over version, because all of a sudden you have to be on the field for three hours. But this format with the kind of experience he has, it really counts and also he is somebody who effortlessly bowls at a decent pace and can swing the ball. So all of that together really helps us. That’s what we want from him. We want to keep him fit throughout the T20 World Cup.”