Mumbai: “Come here, let’s have some fun,” quipped MS Dhoni after the Australian reporter asked whether he will continue playing after India was knocked out of the ICC World Twenty20 following a defeat against in the ICC World Twenty20 semifinal in Mumbai on Thursday.
Dhoni made the mediaperson sit beside him on the podium during the post-match press conference, put his hand on the reporter’s shoulder and asked, “You want me to retire?”
The journalist said, “Not that I want. That’s what I want to ask you.”
“I was hoping it was an Indian media guy because I can’t really ask you if you have a son or a brother who is a wicketkeeper. Do you think I am unfit, looking at my running?” added Dhoni.
Journalist replied: “No. You’re very fast.”
“Do you think I can survive till the 2019 World Cup,?” asked Dhoni. The reporter, who did well to hold his ground, said, “You should, yes, sure.”
“Then you have answered the question,” said Dhoni.
“I wish it was an Indian mediaperson. Then I would have asked if he has a son who is a wicketkeeper and ready to play. He would have said no, then I would have said maybe a brother who is a wicketkeeper and who is ready to play. You fired the right ammunition at the wrong time,” said Dhoni as the entire media contingent burst into laughter.
While the retirement question and Dhoni’s reply to it stole the show, the Indian skipper was forthcoming when asked about his missing finishing touches and whether India were a few runs short in the semfinal after put in to bat first.
“If you see the team combination, you have the roles and responsibility assigned to every individual and if you are performing your roles and responsibilities well you will end up winning the game,” Dhoni said.
“The problem happens when the opposition is batting first on a surface that will remain the same and end up scoring 30-35 runs more than what is a par score. If you compare today’s game, the surface in the first innings and the second inning was very different. Ultimately, what matters is how the players are performing,” added Dhoni.
Although West Indies were fearless in their approach as they chased down the target, their batsmen, especially Lendl Simmons, were lucky to survive after getting out on no-balls.
Discussing that Dhoni said: “It is good that we talk about luck because we start with a flip of the coin but other than that you have to be at your best, you have to keep performing. If you know there will be dew, you try to win the toss, you can’t really control it. You try to win the toss, put the opposition in and try to take the game away from there. So luck is a factor definitely but at the end of the game you have to play good cricket. None of the tournament that we have won was because of good luck, there is nothing called good luck. You have to execute your plans well.”
“When an individual is given that tough responsibility of bowling one over when there is pressure, he bowls a good over, he executes his plan; ultimately you win the game. It is not about that if he is the captain you will win the series or if the other guy is the captain you will lose the series.”
“It is about how you are executing, what the plan is, how well the guys have executed it. For example, you play a 9.30 am start and if the wicket is wet in the first innings and in the second innings it gets better. So all these things are put into consideration but there is something that is beyond control so the only thing you want to do well is execute your plan and improve as a player and that is what the strength of the squad is. The other things can change but that is the thing that is more important,” added Dhoni.
However, Dhoni was not too kind on Indian bowlers bowling no-balls which eventually turned the match in West Indies’ favour.
“Frankly, you have to take into account that nobody wants to bowl a no-ball but it is just that on these tracks like these when it is so difficult. If you bowl a no-ball and get a wicket off that no-ball then there is no one else to blame because also one of the catches was a brilliant catch that was taken off the no-ball. What it does is that it gives you a free-hit and the batsmen get a chance to get into some kind of a momentum. So I feel that the point at which the no-balls were bowled were quite crucial. If we had got those wickets, we would have got the opportunity to bowl at one or two overs of the spinners and get away with them without giving too many runs,” said Dhoni.
“Nobody wants to bowl a no-ball so I don’t want to be too tough on them but when there is pressure you have to be at your best. No-ball is something that can be avoided especially the front foot no-ball, you practice more and you practice more. The only thing is that if you don’t want to bowl a no-ball you should never bowl a no-ball,” he added.
While India batted well to put up 192 runs on board, it seemed they were 10-15 runs short. Dhoni, though, said that Indian brand of cricket is slightly different as they put up above par scores.
“As I said we have to keep reviewing. What our strength is if you see the Indian brand of cricket, we take one or two overs, we see how the wicket is behaving and according to that we see. Okay, next five overs, let’s do this, at the end of this over if we have not lost too many wickets, this is where we should be,” said Dhoni.
“What happens is you evaluate every 3-4 overs, at times in two overs also depending on who is bowling. And that has been our strength. We always get a score that is a par plus score. Right from the start if you think about the big hitters and start looking as 210 as a good score, you may end up getting 160 or 170 and that may not be enough on a wicket like this. So you always look to back your strengths at the same time, go for a par plus score, don’t go for a score that is an absolute score. What we have seen in this format is that nothing is a safe score. We have seen 220, 230 also getting chased so depending on your strength and the depending on the wicket we say this is the score and make sure we reach there,” concluded Dhoni.