Birmingham, June 24: India captain MS Dhoni admitted that it was a "bit unfair" to have played out a 20-over game in a 50-over Champions Trophy final against England here at Edgbaston on Sunday (June 23).
The match officials were forced to reduce the game to 20 overs due to rain. After a delay of over 6 hours, the final started. India edged England by 5 runs in a last-over thriller.
After winning the trophy, Dhoni addressed the media. He spoke on various issues.
Here are the excerpts
Question: A one-day match turned into a 20-over match. Players, playing in colored clothes. What was going through your mind?
MS Dhoni: To start off, I think it's a bit unfair that in the ICC Champions Trophy 50-over format we had to play a 20-over game to find a winner. But still, I think they needed the result.
But I think there was something for the bowlers, especially, spinners, if you bowl the right areas you can hit the seam, getting a bit of turn, and it was stopping a bit. So, that was the reason why we had those extra fielders and also we wanted to put some extra pressure on their batsmen. It was very important if it starts to turn that we have two spinners used right now. But it was important with our main bowlers we get wickets.
Q: What did you tell your team when they went out to field? What did you tell them because they weren't defending a lot? And, secondly, the we've always seen is known as Captain Cool. Today after winning you showed the kind of emotions you have not shown even in the World Cup.
Dhoni: It means a lot because you're playing against some of the best sides, and also the kind of match that we had won. To beat England in a 130-odd runs game is something that's very difficult.
Q: How did you motivate your team?
Dhoni: Before going in I said, let's first of all get rid of the feeling that it's a 50-over game. It's a 20-over game, and we have seen in IPL and in T20 formats, 130 runs can be a difficult target to achieve. Secondly, nobody looks to the left of the pavilion. That's the side that the rain was coming from. So, I said God is not coming to save us. If you want to win this trophy, we'll have to fight it out.
We are the number-one ranked ODI side, so let's make sure that they have to fight for these 130-odd runs. Don't look for any outside help.
Q: MS, 130, like you said, was not a great total to defend. And throughout the tournament, Trott has been the lynchpin of their batting lineup. Was that dismissal part of the plan?
Dhoni: No, no, that was not planned at all.
Q: But how important was it?
Dhoni: I think it was a very important wicket for us. Not only his, but Cook also the reason being the two batsmen looked to play through the innings, and the others rotate around them. This means, if they get a good partnership going, they can play freely, especially if you talk about this game. You know, 130-odd runs. If there is a big partnership going, it becomes very difficult for us to come back into the game.
Q: At any stage when the match may not be played, did you think the match would not be played? Did you ever think the tournament was missing a reserve day?
Dhoni: I'm not sure about it. We just come and play the tournament. I'm not too worried about the result. That is something that the ICC needs to have a look at. The only bad thing is that, you know, the winner was decided in a 20-over game when it comes to a 50-over format.
Q: Can you start thinking about the 2015 World Cup or is it still too far away considering the team that you have? The nucleus of that team will remain one-and-a-half years from now?
Dhoni: Well, it's very difficult to answer as of now. People, especially players get injured very often. Most of these players, they end up going into the 2015 World Cup, but it's too far ahead. We'll have plenty of tournaments before that and plenty of important series, ICC event, Asia Cup and all of those series. So I don't think we're looking too much ahead.
We've got a series against West Indies where we're going from here, and then Zimbabwe and after that we have some fair time off to get also going, recharge ourselves so we can avoid injuries.
Q: When you were batting, there were two or three rain interruptions and eventually the conditions resulted in England batting. Do you think in circumstances like these they need to take care of - when the other team bats? Do they need to consider the first team that is batting? Because it was not the same when they were batting in the conditions and the results. What do you make of it?
Dhoni: First and foremost we know in games like these, toss becomes very crucial the reason being you can see when we were batting, the good thing was it rained a lot. It all started quite before our batsmen went in to bat, a 1030 start. We started very late.
After that, also we went to bat and after every few overs they had to come off. Which means, people talk about getting set, getting used to the pace and then playing the big shots, but that was never the case. The batsmen, whenever they felt that they were set, they could play those big strokes. They're supposed to come out and we had 15, 20 minutes at least.
That really never allowed us to gain any kind of momentum or build the kind of partnership that was needed. It reflected later on in the innings when the middle-order went into bat. They played a few big shots, and it never really paid off. It went straight to the fielders. I think it was the reason why we ended up scoring less than we should have scored or would have like to score.
I don't think there is much that can be done. But you're right, there was a lot of problem with those breaks. There were plenty of breaks, but I don't think we ever gained any momentum from that.
Q: A couple of characters on your team that have done quite well, certainly Ravindra today and Shikhar Dhawan through the tournament?
Dhoni: I think Shikhar, he has just carried forward his confidence from the Test innings that he played. He went into the IPL with an injury. But as soon as he became fit, he was scoring freely, which I feel is very important. He's a slightly different character, but a fun loving guy. At the same time, he backs himself to play those big strokes that he plays.
So I think that really helped him, especially in this tournament. It's something that he will carry forward. He'll gain a lot of confidence out of the innings that he has played, especially over here. And that will really help the team more often than not get off to a good start.
Jadeja is someone who keeps it very simple. Just looks for the right area and the ball does the talking. The good part was he contributed with the bat, which I feel is very important because he's someone who will have to bat at number seven. Now what we have seen is you can't play with six batsmen and five bowlers. You know, the seven number slot is very crucial, and he's the only one out of nine that can really do that job for us.
Q: In the 18th over, there were two wides and then two wickets. What are you thinking after the wides? And Alastair Cook thought about that Bell decision was very poor. You were right there. What did you see from your angles?
Dhoni: I'm not really close to the television, so I don't really know, and I haven't seen the television. But there are lots of things that happened. If you start dreaming about stuff, then not to forget. Last time we came over here we were playing the five ODIs. There was no ropes done. There were never any breaks to make sure that the field was in good condition, and we paid the price. Every time we lost the toss, we were bowling second.
So every captain has his views, and we all respect that. What was the second one?
Ishant went for the six. The strong breeze was going across the stadium, and if you middle the ball, very good chance that it will go for a six. And Nick's plan was to bowl outside of which I felt Ishant struggled a bit. So I said, no, let's get back to the original plan, you know? This wide length of delivery is not really working for you, so we brought him back. And he bowled a slower one and so deceived the batsman, so it worked.
As I always say, you have to see the strength of the bowler and you can't just implore the plan because it works for the batsman, but you have to see if the bowler can really implement that plan, because you have to see if it's strength or not.
Q: You led India to a T20, 50-over World Cup and now this Champions Trophy. How different is this team from the other two? And also, is there anything more to achieve as a captain, because you have done it in all formats in all big tournaments? How does it feel?
Dhoni: I never turn up on the field to achieve something as a captain. For me, winning the game is very important, and that is of utmost importance for us as a team. I feel the first ICC World Cup in 2007 that we won, and this tournament that we have won, there is a bit of similarity. There also there were quite a few - quite a number of players who were making their comebacks into the team, so they wanted to do well desperately and be part of the team.
The thing that is the case in this team also, there are a few who wanted to do well and have a secondary position on the side.
The 2011 World Cup, I think it was the right mix. We had very experienced players and some of them felt it could be their last World Cup because of age and everything. So I think, and also the fact that it was happening in India, we all wanted to do well because the expectation was too much. We just wanted to express ourselves. I think the similarities between the 2007 and this team.
Q: Take any extra pleasure from having beaten England in the final? Particular after it was such a tough tour when you were here last time and in the Test series?
Dhoni: No, opposition is just opposition for us. It doesn't really matter if we had beaten England in the final or some of the other sides, you know, because if you start looking at the opposition and particular teams, you want to win a game, then you may find it difficult. But it's the same. It doesn't matter who we have beaten, but the thing is we have beaten them quite well.
Q: Could you talk about the over, Ashwin bowled against Eoin Morgan and how that played a part? And you keeping him for the final over, possibly, because I'm sure you wanted him to pull in the batting powerplay?
Dhoni: Well, I think, you know, the plan was to keep the spinners for the two overs of power play. The reason being, the English conditions are really used to playing the fast bowlers and with key fielders outside, our bowlers would have found it quite difficult to contain the batsmen. So I thought with a bit of turn and with the left-right combination going in, it would be good to keep the spinners for the last two or three overs at least. They would have to play those big shots.
But for that it was very important that our fast bowlers bowled really well, so that we have more than eight or nine runs in the last two or three overs. I think we gave up a few deliveries from which they could score, the fast bowlers. But apart from that, the middle overs they came in here and bowled really well. And that really kept the pressure going.
As far as the last-minute concern, the three overs that he initially bowled, once Ian came in, we said, let's look to put pressure on him and see if he plays a bat stroke or two, we can go after Ashwin, and there is a very good chance that he may get out. At that point if we had gotten him out, the game would have been slightly easier for us.