Captain MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina believe India's fielding in the second T20 has sent out a message that they are ready to turn things around in the triangular series
India's Twenty20 World Cup victory in 2007 put Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the map as a leader of substance. But it was the triangular series triumph against Australia and Sri Lanka in early 2008 that advanced his reputation of a courageous captain, one who was ready to throw newcomers in the deep end. That one-day series squad was picked amid controversy. Rohit Sharma and Robin Uthappa were included despite doing very little in the domestic arena. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were dropped. It was an open secret that the squad was picked at Dhoni's behest.
MS Dhoni runs Xavier Doherty out during the second T20 match against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday. Pic/AFP
This time too Dhoni returns to the triangular series with a younger, fitter and hungrier bunch of players at a time his captaincy career is on the crossroads. India's limited-overs squad began fielding drills at Adelaide Oval less than 30 minutes after Australia completed a 4-0 whitewash of the Tests.
There was a sense of excitement in the tone of Dhoni when SUNDAY MiD DAY asked him about the limited-overs leg of the tour Down Under. "It's better for us to forget the Test matches quickly as possible. We have guys who love their fielding. It is a learning experience for them (the youngsters) to play in Australia. Let's not forget that the World Cup will be staged here in 2015. These youngsters are very hungry to show what they can do. It will be a test for them to field on these big grounds," he said.
One of Dhoni's close confidants in the squad, Suresh Raina, echoed his skipper's sentiments on the eve of Sunday's first one-dayer between Australia and India here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. "All the boys that have come as one-day specialists are young. When the fielding is good, the intensity picks up, there is a positive vibe around, the whole atmosphere is different," he said. "That's what we saw yesterday (in the second T20 international). The fielding was very good, the throws were brilliant, everybody did well. The batting was also good. Gautam Gambhir saw us through. It's a good sign. Hopefully we will continue that," added Raina, a veteran of 135 ODIs.
Strong pace attack Raina said the team was depending on a strong pace attack that includes Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar. "When you take wickets with the new ball, it's always good for the bowling unit. Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumar bowled really well in the T20s. If you look at the bench strength, we have Irfan (Pathan), Zak (Zaheer Khan), Umesh (Yadav) ready to go. We have a good team right now," he said. This is perhaps India's best-ever fielding unit. And Raina, who took two catches in the first T20 at Sydney and effected a run-out from the deep in the second, is perhaps the leader in that regard.