Many people are watching Mahendra Singh Dhoni's ascension to the Indian captaincy, if only for the shortest version of the game, with interest. After all, Dhoni is from generation next, has a reputation for straight talking and is also believed to be a far more shrewd strategist than he is given credit for, given the way he bats. <b1>
So when he, in his first official press conference as proper Indian skipper offshore, remarked that he did not think Twenty20 a batsman's game, it made for news. After all, T20 is widely perceived to be the road to redemption for batsmen and the road to perdition for bowlers. “I don't think it's a batsman's game," Dhoni said, hours after arriving in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“The new Kookaburra ball does a bit. And on the wickets here, it's expected to bounce a bit also. There are chances that bowlers will get wickets. If you know a batsman's plan, you can change strategy. And there's very little time for a batsman to get his eye in.”
Dhoni frankly admitted that the game was more for the “crowds”. “It's a different ball game from Tests and one-dayers. There's not much time for a batsman to build an innings and bowlers to plan a batsman out,” he said. “It is entertaining for crowds, in fact, it is for the crowds.
You get to see a lot of fours, sixes and wickets, you are always entertained.” And after saying all that, he reverted to diplomacy, saying it was an important event. “After all, it's a World Cup and it's exciting to be here”.
India have played just one T20 international so far and Dhoni admitted that he and the new cricket manager, Lalchand Rajput, will have to make utmost use of the 48 hours they have before India play their first group match — against Scotland on Friday in Durban. "It is a format where you have to keep three to four plans ready," Dhoni said. "The form is such the game changes every couple of overs. You have to be ready and take decisions quickly. So, planning is important."
India have fielded a very young team. From the squad that faced England in the one-dayers, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Zaheer, Powar and Munaf have headed home. In come Sehwag, the Pathan brothers (Yusuf and Irfan), Joginder Sharma, Harbhajan and Sreesanth. But Dhoni said that the advantage they had was in the surfeit of utility cricketers. "I think 12 of them can bowl and bat," he said. "We'll see the wicket and then decide, but we have lots of options, and if you have options there is a good chance of the team doing well."