|Mahendra Singh Dhoni talks to the media.|
How does it feel to be over here?
It's good to be out of there. You know, England, it's always good to come here and play some cricket, but the weather now, we landed yesterday evening so it has not been really nice, so we are hoping it will turn out to be bright and sunny soon and we can go onto the field and start with some practice. Fingers crossed. I don't think we'll get good practice today, but from tomorrow maybe, yes.
And the mood as a team here?
How important is it for you as a skipper to win this Champions Trophy to silence your critics back home?
Well, it's an ongoing process. Always something that keeps coming across, a few of them will ask questions and a few of them, you have to silence them. It's not really important from my side. It's to see what kind of a squad we've got and to see if it's a fresh bunch of players. With the new rules that we will be using, it will be the first time that we will be playing outside the subcontinent with the new rules. It will be interesting to see how quickly the players adapt, what kind of plans we'll plan so that it will be good according to the kind of talent that they have got.
I think that's the main thing where we are focusing, and of course it looks good as of now. Nobody has got any niggles when it comes to the fitness aspect. It's very important that the full squad remains fit throughout the span of the period so that you're not forced to select your second 11 or third 11; it's always good to feature the best 11 in each and every game.
Just wondered how disappointed you were to lose the final of the IPL, and would this championship rekindle your winning spirits if you win?
The T20 format, I always say it's a lottery format where you have to be at your best on that particular day, especially once you reach the knockout stages, especially if it's the big game. I think we didn't really bat well on that particular day and because of the pitch we were on the losing side. Now, in this format, the team is completely, the squad team is completely, and the composition of the squad is entirely different. So I think it's very different to what we are talking about. It's the amount of effort that we have put in, the preparation that really matters, not always the result.
Does the Champions Trophy offer an opportunity to restore the reputation of Indian cricket?
It's not that the reputation is gone. If I go ahead to explain that, I would rather answer his question, also. When the right time comes I'll answer, but as of now I don't think we have lost reputation because whatever the setup will be throughout the world or in any sport, still you'll have people who will be slightly mentally weak compared to some of the others, and I would have loved to elaborate, but at the right time I'll do it.
When England went out there for the 50‑over series, Jadeja was a key figure. Do you think he can be as influential over here in very different conditions?
We are hoping, but as I said, the condition is very different compared to the subcontinent conditions. We'll have to see how it works, what's the composition of the side that we are looking at, what kind of bowlers we want to feature. Of course with the new rules we'll be forced to play with five bowlers, and Jadeja has done really well for us giving us that balance that's really needed.
We are hoping that he does well because it will be a great ‑‑ he'll be a great asset to the side with his stamina, with his bowling and a bit of batting down the order. I think he'll be someone who will really help us get the balance that's really needed in an ODI squad, and there are a few others. If it doesn't work there are a few others that can still do the job and we have options in the side.
What do you make of this being the last Champions Trophy? Do you think as a tournament, a mini‑World Cup, it could have been continued with?
It's a difficult one to answer because of course there's a lot at stake when it comes to the bilateral series and also the ICC tournaments. If you see with the T20 format jumping in which means every alternate year we have a T20 World Cup that's there and then you have the proper 50‑over World Cup and also not to forget we have Asia Cup also that the guys play in, a lot of other big tournaments, so I think it's just a measure to get slightly out of the too many ICC tournaments that's happening.
Champions Trophy is always a tough tournament. Whether it's the right way to go ‑‑ not the right way, I'm not really sure about it. But it's always a tough tournament where all the top teams, they come to participate, and you don't really have much time. You have to get your acts together really quickly, be at your best right from the very start. It's a tough tournament, and we are hoping that it will give plenty of experience to some of our new boys.
India's record going into international assignments after the IPL hasn't always been so good, presumably looking at the difference in the pitches here, I think you've only got two warm‑up games, so I just wondered for all the positives of the IPL, and no one disputes those, the weather, whether it maybe it holds back the Indian team a little bit.
Not really. You have to look at the positives. If you look at the positive you can say the players that are playing the IPL, they had good exposure to international bowlers because bowlers from all over the world, they come and play in the IPL right from (indiscernible) team to the best that the world has to offer, which means most of the players are in touch. They are in good rhythm.
You look at the positives and the traveling, also, this year was not really hectic. We have to travel, but we all know in India the hospitality business is really good so from the hotels to the airline business, I don't think that really pushes us on the back foot.
What you have got right is the stats where they say after IPL we have not done really well, so you have the stats to back you up on that. So that's one area where we'd like to put also on the right side by doing well in this particular tournament. But I don't think it's for the IPL to be blamed if you say we have not done well after IPL, if we have not done well when we have played. Let's see how it goes, and as you said, we have a few days before we get out and going in the business end of the tournament. Two practice games should be good enough. If not, then we'll have to play a little 15‑game tournament before the start of the tournament.
I think overall it looks like a good setup as of now. We have got a few days where we'll get together, do a bit of practice, what needs to be done, the areas where we need to work and get into the tournament.
I simply wanted to know that given Rohit Sharma opened in the last game against England and also you have the option of Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan also, has any thought given on the opening, as to who's going to open, and second part of the question is about the bowling attack with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a lot of expectations riding, and how are you going to back him?
Well, let's see if he will start in the opening 11. I'm just joking.
You know, it's good to Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan both fit and being a part of the side. They are someone who has done really, really well in the few test matches they have played against good sides. We are really banking on that.Vijay had a decent IPL season and Shikhar was unfit for the few first games but after that he came back really well.
I think it'll be really important to start off with two proper openers. Yes, Rohit has done well; the few games that he got as an opener he has done well, so he'll be our, you can say, the third opener just in case if it's needed, and if it doesn't really go our way. Dinesh Karthik I think is a middle‑order batsman; I don't want to push him to open, but you may say I'm contradicting that by asking Rohit to open. So we'll see how it goes, and if needed if something happens to the opener then Rohit will be our backup opener just in case.
Do you feel that you have a point to prove in this tournament?
Well, every assignment that we go in we have a point to prove, and that's what international cricket is all about, when you compete amongst the best teams in the world. There's always there the fact that you play for your country, you play for the pride of the people that you are representing.
I think it's always about being at the best.
Imagine if you win the Champions Trophy at this point of time, do you think the faith of the fans will be restored back home in India?
I know one thing, I'm a person that lives in the present, so I don't really believe in imagining. What I believe is in doing stuff right. As you likely said, we'll have a practice session today in the afternoon hopefully, and from there we'll take it how it comes.
Your first answer was "it's good to be out of that." Can you just expand on that a bit? You look the same cool, relaxed guy you always do. Is that really how you feel?
Well, you know, you're just forcing me to answer a few things ‑‑ when the time comes I will answer. I just want to keep our side away from everything as of now.
Can you just comment on how Bhuvneshwar Kumar is going to ‑‑
He is someone who can swing the ball ‑‑ what we have seen even in the subcontinental conditions he is someone who can swing the ball both ways and he bowls in really good areas. It will be a good outing for him. He's someone who's really young, so he has plenty of cricket ahead of him. Just that he needs to enjoy the challenges that come in front of him. We all know he's someone who will do well, just have to see how he bowls from the 6th until the 8th maybe or from the 5th to the 8th because now with the two new balls getting used, definitely someone who will have an impact on the game.