By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) – Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is glad India will play three Twenty20 matches in Australia and hopes it will help the team identify the right combination before the World Twenty20 at home in March.
A lone T20 match is mostly the norm for an Indian team in a bilateral series but this time they will have more opportunities to hone their skills after playing five one-day internationals Down Under.
Though conditions in Australia will be starkly different to what they will get at home during the March 8-April 3 tournament, Dhoni felt India will have ample opportunities to test batting and bowling combinations during the series.
“I agree the conditions will be very different to where we will play the T20 World Cup but at the same time it is at least good to have three T20s together,” Dhoni, who now leads India only in limited-overs matches, told reporters.
“Now… we have ample opportunity to try different people at different slots, different bowler combinations so we will be in a better position by the start of the World Cup as to what our playing eleven will look like and what will be the best suited strategy for the team.”
India lost both their 50-over and T20 series at home against South Africa recently and Dhoni said the team still needed to address a few problems in their line-up.
Spinner all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja made a comeback to the limited-overs format in the Indian team riding on his strong show against South Africa in the test series and will have to fight with Axar Patel for a spot.
“I think Jadeja is bowling really well,” Dhoni said ahead of the team’s departure for Australia. “At the same time Axar is also in the team so we have two spinning all-rounders who are competing for a slot which will be very good for the team.”
With batsman Suresh Raina dropped from the ODI side after an inconsistent run, Dhoni has to decide who to use at the crucial number six slot in the batting order.
Batsman Gurkeerat Singh Mann and all-rounder Rishi Dhawan, who are yet to play for India, and greenhorn Manish Pandey are contenders for the spot but Dhoni was yet to decide whether he should demote himself to take on the responsibility.
“Number six-seven is the most difficult place for any batter to come if you are making your debut,” Dhoni added. “It is one place where not many have been successful.
“The tricky part is whether to push that individual to bat at six or give that individual the chance to bat at five and I take that extra pressure of batting at six.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)