Dhoni banks on openers to fire


NAGPUR – India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he was looking to openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar to fire at the top of the order as the host nation eyes the quarter-finals. “If our openers can bat as long as possible, it will be good for us because from what we have seen, if Sachin and Sehwag get going it is difficult to stop them,” Dhoni said on the eve of his Group B match against South Africa. “I am just hoping that in coming games we have slightly bigger partnerships so that the middle and the lower middle order can use the explosive power well. “We rely on momentum and if we get a good start, our lower order can really cash in on the platform that is provided to us.”
The explosive Sehwag and Tendulkar are capable of dominating any attack but their highest stand in the World Cup so far has been 69. When asked whether India would be wary of South African paceman Dale Steyn in Saturday’s clash in Nagpur, the Indian skipper said: “Not only Steyn. All of them are talented and can get batsmen out and you have to be at your best.” Steyn destroyed India with a 10-wicket match haul in the opening Test in Nagpur last year, helping his team notch an innings victory. Dhoni said the intensity would pick up as the tournament progressed and he wanted to gain momentum in the run-up to the last-eight fixtures.
“Slowly the intensity will go up and you have to go on improving,” he said. The Indian skipper said his team were well-prepared for the upcoming matches against South Africa and the West Indies after three wins and a tie against England in their four matches so far. “The first four games were really good as far as getting into the groove and getting into the next leg of the tournament is concerned. We have seen signs of improvement and we should be improving a lot,” said Dhoni. “In the last four games we had a tie, two good run chases.
We have batted first and chased and played on good batting and slower tracks, so we have a fair bit of exposure about what we may get in coming days.” Dhoni said India had not decided whether to go with an extra fast bowler against South Africa. “It (playing an extra paceman) will be a thought. From what we have seen, this is one of the better tracks in the country,” he said. “I mean there is a little more bounce and what we have seen is not extraordinary speed or seam movement for the seamers, but only a little extra bounce. “We will have a look and see whether it (the wicket) is dry or not and then decide on the team combination.”