V.V. Subrahmanyam

HYDERABAD: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni feels that his team cannot afford to have another off day with the seven-match series tied two-all. “It has become like a five-match series now. There is very little time to recover if that happens,” he said.

Speaking to the media on the eve of the fifth one-dayer against Australia at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Wednesday, Dhoni said, “it is important for us to get a good start so that we can be in a position to dictate terms.

“It is always better to set up a big score. One of the top three or four has to come up with a big score,” he said.

“There are absolutely no concerns in bowling and we have been getting good starts with the ball. I don’t think we need to have a second spinner given the way the bowlers have been performing.

“Ravindra Jadeja is bowling really well in the middle overs and it will be good for the team if he does well with the bat at the crucial No. 7 slot,” the captain said.

No complaints

“I have no complaints with the way Harbhajan Singh has been bowling in the last couple of games. Ishant Sharma had a couple of bad days but should come back strongly anytime,” said Dhoni.

“It is a fact that Peter Siddle was in form and before him Brett Lee looked very good before they were injured. But, we are not targeting any bowler specifically,” he said.

“I don’t find any fault with the schedule for this one-day series except for one match when there was only one day’s gap. It is evenly spaced out given the circumstances,” Dhoni said on the demanding schedule.

“We are aware that the Australians are very good fighters and I am not surprised that they have drawn level,” Dhoni said. “The wicket looks good with enough bounce for the bowlers and the ball should come on to the bat.”

On Sachin Tendulkar set to cross another landmark — he is seven short of scoring 17,000 runs in one-dayers — Dhoni said there would be huge expectations every time he went out to bat.

“And he has lived up to them so many times and it would be great if he comes good again tomorrow.”

Australian coach Tim Nielsen believes that batting first or second should not make a difference on this wicket. “Maybe the team batting first will be under some pressure to post a challenging total of 270-plus,” he said.

Nielsen also felt that it was unnerving to see injuries crop up for almost every game. “This disturbs the balance of the team and we have to re-think our strategy for every game,” he added.

“However, it is good that the new guys have done their bit so far and responded well to the given situation. And it is also a huge opportunity for them under trying circumstances,” said Nielsen.

“I don’t think that it would be difficult to field a playing eleven tomorrow as we have 12 to 14 players who are very fit. The injuries put great pressure on Ricky Ponting and he has responded really well. Also, Mike Hussey, who has been outstanding,” he added.

On Mitchell Johnson’s poor form so far, Nielsen hoped that he would get better for “he is the sort of bowler who can make a comeback for he bowls quick and his angle across the right-handers can be dangerous.”

“The schedule is certainly hectic with so many events lined up. But the onus is on the players to get adjusted to different formats. There is very little we can do about that,” Nielsen said.

“It is nice to enter the fifth match of the seven-match series at 2-all and would be great if we go up 3-2. I am aware that the venue has not been lucky for the home team, especially for the Deccan Chargers,” he said with a big smile.

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