Birmingham, June 23: India captain MS Dhoni said the Champions Trophy final at Edgbaston today will be a "good contest" as England were a good side considering they knew the conditions well.
On the eve of the match, Dhoni spoke about the final, Decision Review System (DRS), India's batting and bowling among other things.
Here is what Dhoni said in the pre-final press conference on Saturday (June 22).
Question: You've batted brilliantly throughout the tournament, right through the four matches, but is the lack of batting for the middle order a concern at all ahead of the big final?
MS Dhoni: The important thing is what could have been done. You're not allowed to bring your batsmen in like a warm-up game, so I think the best that we could have managed was in the practice session give the guys who have not batted a bit of extra batting, and that's what we have done so far.
Q: Skipper, I know you want to live in the present, never want to look back, but June has always been a very special month for Indian cricket in English summer, so how do you look at Sunday and the future? And two days is the 30th anniversary of India's 1983 World Cup win.
Dhoni: You asked a lot of questions in one question. I think what we are looking at is tomorrow's game. It's a very important game, again. But in this tournament you only face the best of teams. So I think it will be a good contest. England team, they are a very good side. They know the condition quite well.
So I think it will be a good game and very good for the spectators, and that's what as cricketers we want to do, we want to entertain the crowd. So it will be good.
'83, it was a very special year for us, winning the World Cup for the first time. I would like to wish each and every person who was part of that team and the support staff and whoever who all were involved, thanks for giving us the '83 World Cup.
Q: MS, Ashwin has been the No. 1 spinner, but Jadeja seems to be catching up to him very quickly. Where do you think he's still lacking that he catches up to Ashwin to become the No. 1 spinner?
Dhoni: Well, can you have two No. 1s in the same team? Because it's always wrong. I think it all depends on the last game. Whoever takes more wickets, often people try to say, okay, he's your first spinner and he's your second spinner.
But what's important is to realise they are a bowling unit, and it's the impact that every individual has. It can reflect on how many wickets the other guy takes. If one of them is bowling brilliantly, it can actually put pressure on the other guy who's bowling from the other end may get wickets. So I think it's very important that they hunt in pairs, and I think that's what they have been doing really well so far. When Jadeja puts the pressure, Ashwin gets the wicket; when Ashwin puts the pressure, Jadeja gets the wicket. Both of them are very crucial for each other's success and for the success of the team.
Q: MS, your top order as you've said has batted so well this tournament, but how much of a stern challenge will this England attack be and how highly do you rate them, especially Anderson?
Dhoni: Well, I think as I said, the English team is a very good team, especially the bowlers, and what we are positive about is the fact our top order, they have done well, and also the fact they have played some of the best bowlers in world cricket so far in the tournament. So I think they are quite well prepared for the English bowlers, it's just that, like in every game, you have to apply, also, so we'll wait and watch.
Q: You must have been thrilled by the opportunity to use DRS. Judging by how well that's gone for you, do you think that might change the Indian view of it in the future?
Dhoni: You'll have to wait and watch and see. Still I don't like it. Two wickets gone, one of Kevin Pietersen, the other of Mahela Jayawardene, so there's no good reason why I should like it.
But it's there to take the blunders away from the game, something like a big inside edge goes on to the bat, the batsman has an advantage and the same.
So we'll have to wait and watch how it goes.
Q: Can you talk about the weather and the effect it would have on cricket has been very good in the tournament. How do you look at it for tomorrow? And two, you shaved your head after the World Cup. Are you going to shave your face after?
Dhoni: Well, there is nothing related to the World Cup because I shaved my head.
As far as the weather is concerned, it has been quite unpredictable, so we'll wait until tomorrow. We'll see what the prediction is like. The weather has proved the predictions also wrong at times. The last game they said it will be quite bad and we may not even get a 20-over game, and we ended up playing for 50 overs.
We'll prepare ourselves, but we'll still see the weather forecast right close to the game before it starts.
Q: MS, 2011 tour to England was quite disappointing for India. Do you think we would have salvaged a lot of pride from this tournament the way we have played so far up to the finals?
Dhoni: I think the ODIs - yes, the Test format when we played the day's game, I don't think our performance was really great. Of course we were hampered by lots of injuries to the players. But I think the ODI performance was good, not to forget all the five games. I lost all the tosses thanks to me, and every game it rained. We were supposed to operate with two spinners, and with the wet ball it becomes very difficult.
Actually, Champions Trophy I realised they actually rope the field before we are supposed to go in to field because throughout that five games we never saw the rain stop and we are thrown in, okay, go and bowl.
So I think it's a bit different right now, and hopefully there will be no rain before this.
Q: Has India salvaged any pride?
Dhoni: Well, you go through ups and downs. You do well, and all of a sudden you say, okay, this is because of that series. We didn't do well, and now we are back and all those things. I think what's important is to accept the fact that yes, we didn't do really well in that series, and think about the stuff that we have done well in this series, how we have prepared and all those things.
Q: Either batting or bowling, do you think the first 10 overs is the most crucial factor?
Dhoni: I think so far in this tournament that's what we have seen. If you get off to a very good start, batting or bowling, you are able to put pressure on the middle order and then you can restrict the opposition from scoring freely, or, if you are batting first if you have wickets, you can get those extra 20 or 25 runs and it can prove very crucial because with the five fielders inside, you want that cushioning of those extra 20 to 25 runs.
So I think the first 10 overs are very crucial both to the batting and to the bowling team.
Q: MS, how pleased are you from the fact that out of the four wins, three were made by bowlers as the Man of the Match award. Bowling has long been an Achilles heel, but in this event it seems to be a strong point.
Dhoni: Well, we have exploited the condition well and we have bowled the right areas, which I feel is very important. Also, what we have done is bowled in one area quite consistently. Most of our bowlers at times, they tend to look for wickets, and in these conditions what's important is to keep bowling in the same channel, use less of variation, more of consistency, and that really helps you get wickets and put pressure, and you don't really need runs. So that's one area where we have done really well.
But still, bowling is a concern. We have not seen in a few games, we have not gone through the depth where the opposition had wickets in hand and were supposed to go after our bowlers. That's still an area where we need to improve as a team.
Q: The batting has done well this tournament, but do you think you can actually push it a little bit more in the final, actually go for a really big total?
Dhoni: Well, it all depends whether we are looking to bat first or bat second. A lot of that depends on the weather and what kind of a wicket it is. But still, as I said, it's very important to deal with the first 10 overs, and then after that once you get a very good platform, then look to capitalise in the middle overs and have wickets in hand for the last 10 or 15 overs.
Like we do in each and every game, we don't go in with a fixed target in mind. We look to get off to a good start, and then every five to seven overs we review as to what a good target can be on that wicket.
Q: MS, how important is the toss considering that in both the semi-finals the team bowling first had an advantage?
Dhoni: Well, it depends on the day. If it's bright and sunny, I don't think it will have that much of an impact, but if it's overcast and you had a bit of rain before the start of the game, then it may have an impact on the game. So I think as of now it's quite balanced. I don't think the toss will be very crucial. But it depends how the weather will be tomorrow, and that time it may get a very crucial amount, the toss.
Q: MS, the England team are sick of being told that they've played four one-day global finals, three World Cups, one Champions Trophy and lost the lot. Does that make them dangerous tomorrow because they're hungry, or does that make them vulnerable, mentally vulnerable, because they can't seem to finish the deal?
Dhoni: I think I can answer it both ways, whichever way I want to. If we are talking about the hunger aspect, then is five games more than enough to get hungry, or is it two? That's the first thing. And the second thing, yes, they may be hungry and they may come hard. So whichever way you want to you can take the answer. I've answered it in both the ways.
Q: The England top order, especially the front three, have received a lot of criticism over this tournament for playing more like Test cricketers than one-day cricketers, but they are in the final, so where do you stand on that? They may not be flashing shots everywhere but they're solid. Where do you stand on the criticism they've had, fair or unfair?
Dhoni: Well, I think they've played proper cricket, and often you need to see how the game is going, how the tournament is progressing. If you see how this tournament has particularly progressed, we are not seeing too many scores of over 300-odd runs, maybe because of the weather and maybe because of how the bowlers are bowling.
But to say whether their approach was right or not, it's not for me to decide. As a team you want to win. That's one thing that you desperately want to do. And second comes the entertainment aspect where you want to hit sixes and fours. But first and foremost you know you want to win a game, and I think that's what they have been doing.
Q: It's a big final. How do you manage to keep - what's the approach to keeping your head clear going into the big match?
Dhoni: Well, we exactly prepare in the same way how we prepared for the semi, when we played against Pakistan in that particular game. So I think the preparation remains the same, and that's what our emphasis is on. We want to prepare well and then go into the game.