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Consistency key for skipper Dhoni

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni felt that consistency is something which India lacks and said both the bowling as well as the fielding departments need to raise their bar if they desired to be world beaters.

cricket Updated: Sep 18, 2009 01:34 IST
HT Correspondent

Ishant Sharma needn't worry about having gone for plenty in the recent tri-series in Sri Lanka. He found support from his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who found it difficult to say what was a 'good' performance from a first-change bowler that Ishant is being used as in one-dayers. Dhoni looked at the positives not just with regards to Ishant, but also in other areas.

“The conditions are different when you are bowling one change and with the new ball. Ishant bowls two overs in the first Powerplay and then comes again in Powerplay II. The opponents tend to go after the one-change bowler. It is difficult to say what is a good performance for a one-change bowler. He is not like a bowler who sends down 4-5 overs with fielders inside the circle.”

Dhoni said Ishant's bowling strength increased when he came on as first change.

“Most of the time we have seen Ishant bowl with the semi-new ball,” Dhoni said here on Thursday on the eve of the Indian team's departure for South Africa for the Champions Trophy.

“We need to bowl a bit up to the batsmen with the new ball. RP Singh and Ashish (Nehra) are the ones who can get more purchase with the new ball. But bowling under lights, we can use Ishant with the new ball. Our overall bowling strength increases if Ishant uses the semi-new ball.”

Dhoni also stressed that his team needed to improve the bowling in the middle and slog overs.

“We have done well in patches. We have not been consistent game after game. We definitely need to improve in the middle overs and slog overs.”

Fielding, Dhoni said, was a concern that wouldn't improve 'overnight'.

He said: “Fielding is down a bit. You have to be best in a tournament like this. “Whenever there are slip-ups in fielding, they have proved costly. We have been missing direct run outs and have been dropping catches.

“It is a big concern and we are putting loads of effort to rectify them. We won't improve overnight. And it is not just about run out and catches. We need to cover the ground so that we can restrict the opponents to 20 runs less than what's on the board.”

These will be some of the points Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten will ponder over when they depart to Johannesburg via Dubai on Friday morning as they seek to win India's first Champions Trophy, not considering the title they shared with Sri Lanka in 2002 in rainy Colombo.

Gambhir passes fitness test

Opening batsman Gautam Gambhir passed his fitness test and will fly with the rest of the Indian team for South Africa. The Delhi left-hander returned early from the recent tri-series in Sri Lanka following a groin injury.

His fitness test was conducted under the supervision of coach Gary Kirsten at the Bandra-Kurla Complex here on Thursday.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that it was a relief for the team with Gambhir back.

“Gautam not only gives a good start but also can stay till the 50 overs,” Dhoni said on Thursday.