Dhoni banks on young talent

Updated: 26 June 2008 16:08 IST

MS Dhoni says he can win the Asia Cup if the team plays to its potential.


With the disappointment of losing the tri-series final to Pakistan behind them, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday said his side would look to build solid partnerships in the middle overs to do well at the Asia Cup starting June 24 in Pakistan.

"We have done well on the last tour to Pakistan (2006), but that's in the past and has no relevance now. I agree with Muttiah Muralitharan's views (expressed recently that India were favourites) to the extent that if we play to our capabilities we can win the Asia Cup," the flamboyant wicket-keeper-batsman said before the team left for Karachi on Sunday.

"But we will have to be our best and I hope we can do it," he added.

Four-time champions India start their campaign in the six-team tournament, which concludes on July 6, with a match against minnows Hong Kong on June 24.

They take on hosts and arch-rivals Pakistan the next day at the National Stadium in what is billed as the revenge clash for Dhoni and his men, who were defeated by Shoaib Malik's team in Bangaldesh in the tri-series final on June 14.

The other three teams in the fray, in a different preliminary group, are Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and UAE.

Dhoni singled out the middle overs as the most crucial phase and said if the team can keep enough wickets in hand while going at a rate of 4.5 or 5 then even 100 runs are not impossible to get in the last 10 overs.

"We did well in the middle overs against Bangladesh and Pakistan in the league phase (in tri-series in Dhaka), but lost a few wickets in the final which put us under pressure (chasing Pakistan's 315)," the Indian limited overs captain said a a pre-departure media conference here.

Dhoni said despite the fact that Yusuf Pathan was given only four overs in Bangladesh, the team had the confidence that he can deliver the goods both with his off breaks and bat. "We have full confidence in not only his bowling but also batting. He has done well in first class cricket and in Challenger Series. In Bangaldesh Virender Sehwag was turning the ball more on that pitch and was preferred. But we will give him (Pathan) enough opportunity", he said.

Coach Gary Kirsten gave the thumbs up to the young batsmen in the team by saying they were capable of carrying the burden on their shoulders in the absence of seniors (Sachin Tendulkar who is injured, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid who were not picked).

"We have an extremely talented group of players," said the former South African Test and ODI opener ahead of the departure of the squad.

Kirsten described the tournament as important for the coming season ahead. "It will be a good experience. It will be beneficial fo r the season ahead if we can win it. Our goal will be to win th e tournament." Asked about the 1983 World Cup victory by Kapil's Devils, who are being felicitated by the Cricket Board in Delhi on Sunday, Dhoni said the triumph re-defined cricket in India.

"We see those moments at Lord's when they won the World Cup as a big motivation for us and a big achievement. We won the Twenty20 World Cup (last year in South Africa) and want to win the 50-over World Cup too," he said.

Dhoni was stumped when asked what he was doing when India won the World Cup 25 years ago. "I was drinking milk," he said, and then added with a smile "I was only two years old".

The team: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Yuvraj Singh (vice capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Ishant Sharma, Manpreet Singh Gony, Pragyan Ojha, Piyush Chawla and Praveen Kumar.

Topics : Cricket
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