Birmingham: India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was as cool as ever on Friday as he prepared for the challenge of facing Pakistan on Saturday, when he knows his team will face a going-over from their exciting bowling attack.
Answering a query from Gulf News as to whether Pakistan’s bowling strength might force him to change his team’s batting strategy, Dhoni said: “Almost all international sides have got good fast bowlers and Pakistan have got a good spinner up their sleeve too. And along with [Saeed] Ajmal they have [Mohammad] Hafeez, who has been doing really well when it comes to the bowling department. Overall they are a very good bowling side, so we are not looking to change anything. The approach needs to be the same and we’ll stick to the basics.”
There are fears that Saturday’s match could be affected by rain, just as India’s pre-match training was, but Dhoni is not bothered about the prospect.
“The English weather is very unpredictable,” he said. “They have said we may have a bit of shower, but we will see before the start of the game how it looks. We will look up at the sky and see what’s really happening and where the clouds are coming from. And once you get close to the game, the forecasts will be more realistic too.”
Dhoni believes that in the case of rain, the team batting second will have an advantage. “What needs to be seen is whether it will be so much rain-affected that the team that bats second may end up batting only 20 or 25 overs, and then the team who has batted first has a bit of a disadvantage.
“But the side batting second also has a bit of a disadvantage because they’ve already played a few overs and they think it’s a 50-over game and then all of a sudden they need to change their plans.”
Dhoni does not want to give any extra importance to rivals Pakistan as opponents and instead wants to treat them as just another opponent. “It doesn’t matter which side you are playing, because the reason is all international sides are good enough, so there’s no real point in taking any added pressure,” he said.
When asked whether Pakistan can be a dangerous side as they have nothing to lose because they have not qualified, Dhoni said: “If their thinking is they have nothing to lose and be expressive on the field and don’t bother about the result, then they can be dangerous. But if the thinking is they are not qualified, and this is a game against India and let’s win this game so we have it as a consolation prize, then they will be in big trouble. So it depends entirely on what they are thinking.”
However, Dhoni believes that the importance of an India-Pakistan clash will always remain. “India-Pakistan games are always big games,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter where you are playing.
“If you compare the matches to the 1980s or the early 90s, you can say it has mellowed down a bit. But at the same time the intensity is still there. I think it’s very entertaining for the spectators.
“There’s also the fact that whenever we play each other in any game in England — I still remember the warm-up game we played before the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup, it was a houseful and we had an equal amount of support, about 50 per cent each. Spectators, especially from India and Pakistan, they love to watch a game like this, so I think it will be a houseful again.”