We are ready for the final: Dhoni

By Abhishek Roy, IANS,

Mohali : Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni Wednesday admitted to have erred in reading the pitch in the team’s 29-run win against Pakistan, but said his boys were ready for Saturday’s World Cup final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.

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Dhoni was relieved that things worked in their favour in the end as they beat arch-rivals Pakistan to enter their third World Cup final.

“It is a dream to be in the final. Before the start we said we need to peak at the right time. In every game we had to struggle. Nothing comes easy. We chased decent scores. Everybody was tested. We are quite ready for the final, but we have to be at our best,” Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.

India had rested off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and had gone in with three seamers expecting a bit of life from the track, but the pitch slowed down and assisted the spinners.

Defending his decision to drop Ashwin, Dhoni said he is happy with his bowlers’ performance.

“The wicket got slower as the game progressed. The pitch was turning and it was difficult to rotate the strike freely. We read the wicket wrongly and played three seamers, but they bowled really well. We did not have to use an extra bowler today. It was tough rotating the bowlers, but we always knew that if a bowler conceded too many runs we could fall back on our part timers like (Suresh) Raina, Virat (Kohli) or maybe (Sachin) Tendulkar,” Dhoni said.

“The strength of our fast bowlers is that they take the pace off the ball. Ashish (Nehra) is a rhythm bowler, Zak (Zaheer Khan) relies on varying length and line. He is brilliant. Munaf has played a lot of T20 and IPL and has become smart.”

Dhoni said though they would have liked to have scored another 20-30 runs, the 260 total was defendable.

“(Virendra) Sehwag and Sachin gave us a good start, but then things got difficult. Shahid (Afridi) and Saeed (Ajmal) bowled a tight line. So we thought of going through the innings and get to a decent score. After the first innings, I thought 260 was a good score,” he said.

On Tendulkar’s valuable 85, Dhoni said: “He batted really well. When he is there he makes it easy for others. He really helps the youngsters read the game. Batting with Sachin in 15 games will give you the confidence which perhaps you will not get even after playing 50 games.”

Dhoni said that the team unity has been the highlight of the India’s campaign in the World Cup.

“There have been some individual performances, but everybody contributed in bits and pieces. We have been backing each other to make everybody feels wanted in the team.”

Dhoni was also happy to see Nehra and Raina perform under pressure.

“Ashish was criticized few games ago and that is part and parcel of Indian cricket. But he did well and his performance was for everybody to see.”

On Raina’s crucial unbeaten 36, Dhoni said: “It was important for us to bat the full 50 overs and Raina assured that. He rotated the strike intelligently and after a long time we performed decently in the batting Powerplay.”