Hectic schedule will not affect us – Dhoni

(Cricinfo) Indian captain MS Dhoni is confident that his team will be fresh and ready to compete in the ICC World Twenty20 despite the tournament starting just days after the conclusion of the IPL. The close proximity of the two major Twenty20 tournaments followed a similar pattern last year, when the then defending champions India failed to qualify for the semi-finals, but Dhoni said his players were experienced enough to manage the travelling and workload.

“It’s not that we have not played games. Sometimes you have to just take the schedule, there’s no point complaining about it,” Dhoni said in Mumbai before the team’s departure for the West Indies.

“The IPL was supposed to finish on the 25th. We had one and a half days’ rest after that, then one whole day of flying and after reaching we have 2-3 days which is more than enough. We play throughout the year. We are together for almost 250 to 300 days so I don’t think that should be a concern at all.”

The coach Gary Kirsten backed Dhoni’s comments and said he was confident his team could go all the way. “We have got the schedule and can’t do anything about it now,” Kirsten said. “The Indian players may feel the heat of it more because all of them played in the IPL but our responsibility is to go out there and ensure that we are well prepared. We will do what we can in these circumstances.”

It wasn’t the best of IPLs for Yuvraj Singh, who managed 255 runs in 14 games for Kings XI Punjab at 21.25. Yuvraj had just returned from injury and didn’t have enough time to work his way back to form once the tournament started, but his performance didn’t worry Dhoni, who backed him to bounce back in the West Indies.

“Yuvraj is a great player, one of the best in T20 format, one of the biggest hitters of the ball and he can contribute with the ball at the same time,” Dhoni said. “He has not scored too many runs in the IPL but at the same time it’s not a big worrying factor.

“In the T20 format you need just 5 to 10 deliveries to strike form. He is still hitting the ball well. So we aren’t too worried about it.”

The only injury blow for India is opener Virender Sehwag, who was ruled out towards the end of the IPL due to a shoulder injury. M Vijay, the Tamil Nadu batsman who had a rewarding IPL, was named his replacement.

Looking ahead to the tournament, Dhoni said the wickets would be on the slower side and he expected his spinners, including allrounders like Yusuf Pathan and Suresh Raina, to play a big role.

“Both Yusuf and Harbhajan Singh did very well for their teams opening the bowling in the IPL. We also have very good part-timers in the team. Yusuf, Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan have done well in all formats of the game over the years to be called as specialist spinners,” Dhoni said. “I don’t think bowling should be a problem.”

India’s problem of facing short deliveries – which was exposed last year in England – was also addressed but Kirsten said the players were prepared to face any challenge.

“Every player is aware of what he plans to do and how he wants to set up his game plan. I’m sure the players themselves would know the bowlers they will be facing and would try to exploit the potential weaknesses of those individuals.

“We will do as much work as we can in the limited time available to make sure we are as well prepared.”

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