Friday, October 30, 2009

Dhoni not concerned with Bhajji's form

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is not at his best but the team is not losing sleep over his form, Mahendra Singh Dhoni said today.

On the eve of India's third ODI against Australia, Dhoni threw his weight behind Harbhajan, who has been lacklustre with the ball of late.

"For sure, he is not at his best," Dhoni told reporters after the practice sessions.
"But considering the kind of player he is, for someone who loves challenges, I think he is just one game away from bouncing back.

"We are not worried about players who have so much of international experience," Dhoni said.

His assertions notwithstanding, the India captain had a long session with Harbhajan in the nets where the off-spinner was asked to pitch his deliveries on a stump placed at the good length area.

Subsequently, Harbhajan was seen bowling to a single wicket with Virender Sehwag facing him.

Dhoni said it was a regular kind of practice.

"It's a simple practice, which we often do with bowlers bowling to a single wicket," he said.

While all the Indian players sweated out in the two-hour practice session, Ashish Nehra stayed away from action, playing football and doing stretching instead.
Dhoni, however, assured there was no issue with the left-arm pacer's fitness.
"This was an optional session. It's a long seven-match series and if an individual wants rest, it's fine. He wanted rest and so did not take part," Dhoni said.
Tomorrow's match could also see Sachin Tendulkar reaching the 17,000 ODI runs -- he is just 79 runs away from the mark -- and Dhoni said it would be a momentous occasion.

"It would be a milestone indeed. He is such a great batsman. Whenever he walks out, we all expect big scores. He not only scores himself but also guides his partner," Dhoni said.

Tendulkar, like Harbhajan, has not been at his best either and one notion is that the senior batsman should allow the Delhi duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir to open the innings and come down at number three.

Dhoni, however, said he was fine with Tendulkar and Sehwag opening.

"I'm happy with the opening pair," he said.

Dhoni was also happy in his floater's role in the batting order, saying he was not in favour of unnecessary tinkering, especially when the team was doing well.
"Every individual has a different role and I'm doing well in the floater's role. Tendulkar and Sehwag opening the innings, Gautam (Gambhir) at number three -- all are doing well in their respective roles. (There is) no need to change when the team is doing well," he explained.

Dhoni was sensational in the previous match in Nagpur where his swashbuckling century fashioned India's emphatic 99-run win over the visitors.

Asked to rank the innings among his tons, Dhoni said, "It's difficult to rank since I have got just five centuries.

But it was special of course.

"We needed to maintain a good run rate and I'm excited about running between wickets there. I was batting with Gautam after a long time and we converted one or one-and-half into twos in such a big field," he said.

According to him, the win in Nagpur has brought back momentum but the team needed to see every match as a fresh challenge.

"First match we lost because we didn't bat or bowl well.

But we took the positives from that match, like Praveen Kumar and Harbhajan's batting. The second match we won, bowling and batting much better while our fielding also looked much improved.

"But we have to start from scratch in every game. Two matches gone, now it has become a five-match series for us and though win brings in confidence, we have to start afresh," he said.

On the Ferozeshah Kotla track, Dhoni predicted ball would keep low and it would not be a run-feast tomorrow.

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