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Spinners will play a major role, says Dhoni

— Photo: AFP

HOLDING COURT: M.S. Dhoni, on a mission to defend the ICC World T20 title, fielding questions at a media conference at Lord’s on Sunday.

LONDON: India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni predicted on Sunday that spinners would play a significant role in the ICC World Twenty20 opening at Lord’s this week.

Slow bowling has proved surprisingly successful in Twenty20 competitions throughout the world, including the two seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Dhoni, whose team defends the trophy it won at the inaugural edition in South Africa two years ago, said he believed ground staff would prepare pitches in favour of the batsmen.

“The organisers want really exciting cricket,” Dhoni told a captains’ news conference at Lord’s. “I think there will be flat tracks and spinners will play an important role.”

Highly motivated

Dhoni rejected suggestions that the Indian team would be tired and find it difficult to concentrate after a packed IPL season.

“When you are playing for your country the motivation level is high,” he said. “It’s a cruel game, the moment you relax, that’s the biggest mistake.”

Grey hairs

And asked about 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.

“The fielding has evolved compared to what it was. We have raised the bar.”

Zaheer not fully fit

He confirmed pace bowler Zaheer Khan was still not fully fit after sustaining a shoulder injury in the IPL.

Left-armer Zaheer, India’s leading bowler over the past two seasons, is expected to be available for the second group game.

Meanwhile, the Indian team trained for two hours at Lord’s on Sunday.

After the rigorous practice session, the Indian cricketers attended an official dinner at the Guild Hall, where the other 11 participating teams were also present.

Vettori concurs

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, whose left-arm orthodox spin is key to his team’s hopes in any form of cricket, said he believed spinners had adapted quickly to the requirements of the Twenty20 game.

“In Twenty20, you are not going to second-guess yourself,” he said.

“The batsman is going to attack you, most spin bowlers realise that, and if they attack too much you create chances and you find even part-time spinners in the IPL being highly successful.”

Pietersen ready

England captain Paul Collingwood said Kevin Pietersen, who missed the one-day series against West Indies with an Achilles tendon injury, was 100 per cent fit and looking forward to the tournament. — Agencies

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