Tuesday, March 09, 2010

IPL will help local players'

The security at the team hotel was predictably tight but Mahendra Singh Dhoni appeared relaxed and confident here on Monday, ahead of Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) battles in season III of the Indian Premier League.

Dhoni said, “We reached the final and the semifinal in the first two editions. We can win the title but need to play to our potential.

“But then, given the kind of format Twenty20 cricket is, you cannot guarantee success. Things can change very quickly. You can have good days and the not so good ones.”

He noticed the security around him too. “I think the security has been great. We are all feeling comfortable.”

Primary strength

The dashing wicket-keeper batsman maintained batting was CSK's primary strength. “We are basically a strong batting unit. We have a useful bowling attack too.

“We have players who can step in to bowl if our main bowlers go for runs. I think, overall, we have a balanced side,” said Dhoni.

Dhoni conceded CSK would miss the injured Andrew Flintoff who would take no part in this edition. He was not sure either about Jacob Oram's time-frame for recovery from yet another fitness concern.

“We have Justin Kemp this year though. He can be a destructive batsman and can chip in with the ball.”

He, however, expected the senior bowlers to rise to the occasion.

“Someone like Muttiah Muralitharan is still a very good bowler. He is also a great character, adds a lot to the dressing room.”

Gruelling event

The CSK skipper acknowledged IPL could be a gruelling event but added the upcoming edition would be less tiring than the competition in South Africa.

Home base

“Twenty20 cricket is a demanding format, physically and mentally. There is also a lot of travelling involved. But at least, we would have a base this time.

“We did not have that in South Africa. The competition would also help us to prepare well for the Twenty20 World Cup.”

Dhoni felt the domestic player had gained much from the IPL.

“I think coach Fleming and cricketers such as Michael Hussey have been good mentors. A lot of Indian cricketers have benefited.

“S. Badrinath, M.S. Gony and M. Vijay have gone on to play for India.

“Suresh Raina has emerged a much better cricketer. So, the IPL really helps the emerging players.”

This is precisely the reason why Dhoni firmly believes only four foreign cricketers should figure in the eleven. “It is the Indian Premier League, right? I think, the Indian cricketers should gain the most from it.”

Fleming's take

Coach Stephen Fleming said, “While the international players enable a side win a game or two, it is the strength of the domestic players that helps a team win the title. I think a lot of good local talent has come through in Tamil Nadu.

“This is a region that has a rich history in the game and is extremely proud of its cricket. There is a very good development system for young cricketers here. All said, local players are the key.”

Talking about practice sessions, he said, “There would be more quality than quantity. We will strive to be extremely focussed and intense.”

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