India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is looking forward to uniting all the talents at his disposal during the World Twenty20 in England after competing against his team-mates in the Indian Premier League.
India are the defending World Twenty20 champions after winning the inaugural edition in South Africa two years ago.
Since then the IPL, a lucrative franchise Twenty20 tournament that features the world’s best players, has burst on the scene although this year it was played in South Africa because of security concerns.
“Of course it is a pleasure representing your country after the IPL where you have limited talent in your side,” Dhoni told reporters at Lord’s here on Sunday.
“But here we have plenty of options and we have the cream of the IPL so there is less pressure on each and every individual.”
India supply more IPL players than any other nation but wicket-keeper batsman Dhoni, the captain of the Chennai Super Kings, said this was not an advantage in itself.
“The IPL will help us but not only us. There are quite a few players from other countries but most of our players are in the IPL.
“The best thing is that our youngsters will know how to handle pressure, when in the last over you need 10 or 15 runs, everyone in our side has faced that situation.
“It’s good exposure for our guys to play against guys like Brett Lee and Shane Warne.
India have been drawn in Group A alongside Asian rivals Bangladesh – who defeated India at the 2007 50-over World Cup in the Caribbean and Ireland – who beat both Bangladesh and Pakistan in the West Indies two years ago.
“In Twenty20, there is no such thing as a weak side, an individual can take the game away from you,” Dhoni explained. “If we take care of the immediate steps, the result takes care of itself.”
Reflecting on India’s success in South Africa, where they beat arch-rivals Pakistan in a thrilling final, Dhoni said: “We can’t live on or relish the memories, we have to turn up and do everything from scratch again, it’s not about the past.
“Cricket is a very cruel game, the moment you relax is when you are in trouble,” Dhoni said.
Asked how the team had developed, Dhoni joked: “I’ve got quite a few grey hairs. That’s one change, the plus point is that in the last three years there have been fewer changes in the side.
“The individuals involved have played 80 to 90 one-day internationals, helps me personally. I can pick ideas according to the situation. Also the fielding has evolved compared to what it was. We have raised the bar.”
India, who still have a doubt over the fitness of fast bowler Zaheer Khan’s shoulder injury, come into this event without batting great Sachin Tendulkar.
‘The Little Master’ has opted out of international Twenty20s and Dhoni said: “He’s among the greatest, it’s tough, you always want a player like Sachin in your side.
“But he wasn’t at the last T20, the guys are getting used to it. But he has a big impact in the dressing room, the amount of ideas he has is amazing.”
Much has been made of the impact various strategies might have on the outcome of Twenty20 matches but Dhoni said: “It’s about how quickly the individual adapts, about what he does on the field.
“It’s not only about strategies but how you implement and how the individual you are planning against reacts. If it was all about strategy Sachin would have been sorted out by now and he’s been playing for 20 years.”
India begin their Group A campaign against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Saturday.