The New Year was not even 24 hours old when India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked up to face the media. And aware that the 2009 exploits of his team were already confined to the memory keeper’s diary, the 28-year-old spent little time on the positives of the year gone by and instead spoke about the challenges ahead.
It was no surprise then that the point of discussion revolved around fielding and bowling, on the eve of the team’s departure for Bangaldesh, where they will play a tri series that also involves Sri Lanka and then two Test matches against the hosts.
The Indian team was found wanting in both departments during the recently concluded one-day series against Sri Lanka and Dhoni was quick to emphasise the need for specialist coaches to assist Gary Kirsten.
“It definitely helps to have a specialised coach when it comes to bowling department and fielding is concerned,” Dhoni said. “Currently Gary has to look after everything. Being the overall coach he has to sit and talk to batsman, bowlers, fielders, get the strategy done, team building and everything.”
While the team is without a bowling coach since the Board sacked Venkatesh Prasad earlier last year, Australian Mike Young worked with the team during the Sri Lanka ODIs but would not be available for the Bangladesh tour.
“As far as I know, Mike won’t be available for this series. But it was interesting with the amount of time the team spent with him. He didn’t come in with a lot of ideas. He was interested in knowing what was happening and where we are positioned. He started very slow,” explained Dhoni. “But it’s important to keep on going with that. He won’t be around but still with the help of other support we will try to put in a lot of effort in fielding.”
The skipper insisted that he was at a loss for the reasons behind the fielding slump. “If you have some weak fielders and if they are the ones dropping catches then you can still work on them. But when your best fielders are dropping catches then you can’t really do much, because they are the best that you have got.”
Dhoni pointed out that the team was never “brilliant” in the fielding department and his real concern was to get the best out of the available resources. “Recently there was a patch when we were fielding very well but overall we have a mix of safe fielders and some brilliant fielders. Its not like out of the 11 players playing 8 are excellent.”
About the bowlers, Dhoni said he was concerned with their performance at the death but felt that things would fall together soon. “In the bowling department we are at a low point as a unit. But we all know our bowlers are very talented and it’s a matter of time that they will get back in form.”