Sydney: Faced with a do-or-die situation, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is all set to field his three regular openers rather than experiment with a pinch hitter at the top of the order in Sunday’s crucial tri-series One-dayer against Australia at Sydney. (Agencies)
"We have three genuine, proper openers. I see no good reason why I should sent in a pinch-hitter. All three score at a brisk pace, they are good at hitting boundaries as well as in taking singles.
"There is no requirement of a pinch hitter when all three are playing," said Dhoni, indicating the rotation policy is as good as over for the rest of the tournament.
With only two more league matches to go, a defeat for India would leave them just a solitary match against Sri Lanka and a must-win with a bonus point situation.
Citing an example of Mahela Jayawardene to show Sri Lanka's resurgence in the tournament as they have now won their last three matches with the captain opening and contributing with the bat with scores of 61, 45 and 85, Dhoni said, "The game has changed slightly with two new balls, one from each end. If the top order can spend more time and we have wickets in hands later, we could look to accelerate.
"That should be the mantra as of now. It's not been great going for us so far. Our strength is different from Sri Lanka and Australia. Sticking to your own strength is really important. It's important to keep learning from each and every game, especially in the areas where we have to improve as a side. It's important we don't repeat the mistakes we have been making as a team. It would help us do well."
Asked if playing an extra bowler, now that Irfan Pathan has come good, is the way forward, Dhoni said, "More than bowling, we have struggled in the batting. Our batting would look very thin with Irfan at seven and Ashwin at eight. It's not an option at least in this game. In future, once we are doing well, and top five or six batters are really performing well, then it's an option."
The captain also dismissed the suggestion of playing an extra batsman in the eleven.
"You have to weigh positives and negatives. If opposition scores those extra 20-30 runs, then it becomes difficult to chase even with an extra batsman.
"Irfan has done well, his bowling has been genuinely good, with the new ball as well as in the middle (overs) as in the death (overs). It's good to have a seaming allrounder but I wouldn't put pressure on him. I would still call him a bowler -- he can always come in and have a bat."
India's been plagued with injuries as Dhoni confirmed that Zaheer Khan has calf injury, while R Vinay Kumar is doubtful for tomorrow's game because of hamstring strain.
Dhoni said only if Vinay was unavailable, would he think about Praveen Kumar even though the latter isn't quite actually on top of his game.
"We want him to work a bit more. He bowled a bit short in the first game. If you look at the bowlers who played in his place, they have done well. Vinay is bowling really well, Zaheer has done well, Umesh is a touch expensive but he is someone who is capable of giving us wickets. He is one who is different with a bit of pace.
"We all know Praveen is very talented and he can swing the ball and bowl in the right areas. He must have used the time (away from game) in best possible manner, work on things he needs to work upon and hopefully he would be ready in case Vinay is not fit."
Dhoni revealed that Praveen, who normally has been his captain's go-to bowler, has actually dropped down on his pace.
Sydney: Faced with a do-or-die situation, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is all set to field his three regular openers rather than experiment with a pinch hitter at the top of the order in Sunday’s crucial tri-series One-dayer against Australia at Sydney.