As You Think So You Become
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RP Singh believes MS Dhoni's decision to retire is well-thought-out; Mumbai Indians CSK will have edge in IPL 2020
The 34-year-old cricketer from Uttar Pradesh - who was part of the 2007 T20 World Cup-winning side under MS Dhoni - also said that the former India captain had nothing more to achieve as he had ticked all the boxes, be it as a cricketer or as a skipper.
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In an exclusive interview with MyKhel, the former left-arm seamer also gave insights about the upcoming IPL 2020 and the teams which will have an edge in the UAE. RP Singh also gave his opinion about Team India's first assignment after the IPL, i.e. the tour of Australia. He said the Test series is going to be a tightly contested one between the two teams. The cricketer-turned-commentator also revealed how different yet similar are MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli's captaincy.
Here are the excerpts:
MyKhel: MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina have announced their retirement from international cricket. What do you think led these to greats to call it a day?
RP Singh: See, the decision to retire is a very personal one, when I retired from international cricket I thought I won't be able to give my 100 per cent on the field and perform with the same intensity. So something similar must have gone through their minds as well and they are now completely shifting their focus towards T20 leagues and have realised that making an India comeback won't happen. I didn't have a chat with them in this regard but they must have definitely given a lot of thought before taking this decision.
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MK: Was MS looking to play this year's T20 WC but Covid-19 played a role in his retirement?
RP: You can say that. But having said that we also remember that there's nothing left for MS to achieve. He's led Team India to T20 and ODI World Cup glories, we became number one in the Tests under his captaincy. Plus age could also be a factor he's almost 40 now and definitely playing the T20 WC in this year would have been in his mind. I don't think the COVID-19 factor alone would have influenced his decision. He's been away from international cricket for a long time as well and his involvement in domestic cricket is a bare minimum. So all these things must have combined to arrive at a conclusion that it is time to bid goodbye to international cricket.
MK: Could you share some experience from 2007 T20 WC memories as the team was full of youth and MS Dhoni made his debut as a captain? What was his thought process as well as the team's mood in the tournament? How did you guys deal with the pressure?
RP: Ours was a balanced team we had a perfect blend of youth and experience. Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag were the senior players and then there were youngsters like us. Yes, nobody had thought we could win the inaugural season because we hardly had any experience of T20. Only a handful of players in the side had featured in a couple of T20 games prior to the WC nor did we have T20 tournaments in the domestic circuit. So experience-wise we were a little behind but we were all determined to make an impact.
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The T20 WC was all about strategies and we saw how MS Dhoni executed his plans throughout the tournament. We took one game at a time and kept setting small targets and continued to achieve them. Everyone had a part to play in the tournament and we performed like well-oiled machinery.
MK: Which teams according to you are going to have an edge in the IPL this year?
RP: I think Mumbai Indians are going to have an edge they are the defending champions plus their coaching and support staff works tirelessly to bring the best out of their players. They are also very good at scouting fresh and young talents which helps them and the team is full of match-winners. Secondly, will be Chennai Super Kings because they have been one of the most consistent sides in the history of the IPL. So these two teams are once going to be pretty impactful this year as well.
MK: We have seen Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Capitals have made some good investments in spinners and it is being said that the pitches in the UAE will conventionally be on the slower side which will aide the tweakers further. Do you think the teams with a quality spin attack are going to be a force to reckon with this time around?
RP: Conventionally, UAE tracks are batting paradise and it will be dry and humid conditions when the IPL will be held. So humidity will make it tougher for the spinners. But yes, if the pitches start turning dry then the spinners will definitely come into contention. If the conditions are dry then we'll also witness low-scoring games and the matches will be tightly contested.
Also, your team combination or playing eleven plays an equally important role in the IPL. Almost half the job is already done if the captain has picked up the right men for the game keeping the pitch and ground conditions in mind. So, here comes the role of coaching and support staff for it is their strategy and analysis which makes the difference.
MK: Pat Cummins emerged as the most expensive buy in this year's IPL auction. He's a brilliant bowler but do you think he'll be as effective in the IPL as we've seen him in international cricket?
RP: Pat Cummins, no doubt, is a superb bowler. But in the IPL you perform against some of the best hard-hitting batsmen and for a bowler to succeed in this league a seamer must have mastery over yorker and control over change of pace. Jasprit Bumrah could be the perfect example of this. Cummins is a good bowler and swings the ball away from the batsmen but I haven't seen him bowling too many yorkers and his change of pace.
MK: Coming to international cricket, how difficult it is going to be for Team India in the Test series against Australia as their batting is stronger now?
RP: Yes, the return of David Warner and Steve Smith makes the Australian side balanced and strong. But I personally think Smith is going to be the biggest challenge for our bowlers during the Test series. He's been in phenomenal form ever since his return to international cricket and climbed to number one spot in Test rankings for batsmen. His unconventional batting style makes it even difficult for the bowlers to dismiss him. He's going to be the biggest threat for sure and the contest between bat and ball is definitely going to be very interesting.
Talking about Team India then our pacers are also world-class and they capable of picking up 20 wickets in a game. As far as our batting is concerned then we have Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara and they'll be key to India's success Down Under.
MK: What is the difference between MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli's captaincy in Tests?
RP: MS, as you know keenly, observes everything from behind the stumps and has a 360-degree view of the ground so he guides the bowlers accordingly. Virat, on the other hand, is an aggressive captain and relies heavily on the pace battery. But ultimately their aim has always been winning the games.
MS likes finger spinners like Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin because they bowl a tight length to build pressure on the batsmen. While Virat relies on wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav who bowl the attacking lines to get wickets and build pressure on the opposition. But both like to lead from the front and score runs. If we look at Virat, then we can easily say he's the best batsman across the formats.
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