Indian Premier League works as a good platform to find and groom talented youngsters, who may go on to play in the national team, according to India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“I want to make more players for ourselves. We are grooming Indian players from under-19 or players on the verge of making debut for India. All those individuals rubbing their shoulders with international cricketers from India and overseas help them in learning cricketing skills,” Dhoni said.
Citing an example, Dhoni said players who made a mark in the first edition went on to play for the country.
“We had Manpreet Goni, Murali Vijay and S Badrinath coming into the side. And Suresh Raina is becoming a great player. We are contributing a lot towards Indian cricket. Overall, we are trying to groom the Indian cricketers for the betterment of the game in India,” Dhoni, who leads Chennai Super Kings, said.
Dhoni said that the current rule of having a limited number of foreign players in the side gives them a chance to try youngsters and was in favour of continuing with it.
“If the overseas players want to find a place in the playing eleven, they have to fight among themselves and not against Indian stock. It is perfect right now and I am quite happy with the system of only four players finding place in the final eleven,” he said.
Dhoni’s comments came after coach Stephen Fleming spoke about importance of overseas players doing duty in IPL teams.
“International players coming in to play for different franchisees is important. It is the mix of players that help a team perform well. We have good talented bunch of players from Tamil Nadu in CSK. It is good to have them,” Fleming said
Dhoni is happy that players would not have to spend much time on road unlike the second edition.
“You compare it with last IPL in South Africa, we will not be travelling that much in India. We have a base and we will be playing most of the matches in Chennai.
“The facilities are great so I do not think it will be as tiring as last year’s IPL. We will be enjoying much more in playing in India. Next 45 days we will be busy and lot of pressure will be on the cricketers,” he said.
The skipper though said weather of the city would pose a challenge for the players.
“Chennai is hot and humid even at around 8.00 pm. Twenty20 is therefore very demanding in all respects, particularly on the body and also on the mental side.”
Dhoni said his side was a balanced one with good batsmen and bowlers.
“As a team we rely more on our batting strength. We have strong options in bowlers like Manpreet Goni, L Balaji, Sudeep Tyagi and spinners like R Ashwin in our ranks.
“In the past they have done well for us. We will try to get the best out of these bowling options. We just need to play good cricket and more often than not when we do that, we will be winning games,” he said.
On the availability of players for this season, Fleming said almost all the players would be available except for Kiwi player Jacob Oram.
He said Australia’s Michael Hussey’s would miss first few matches and would join the squad from April 1 since he will be busy with his national team in New Zealand.
“Jacob Oram of course is not available. I think the full squad should be available for CSK. There was a huge question mark on Andrew Flintoff’s availability. Justin Kemp is the replacement for Flintoff,” he said.
Dhoni also said player like Kemp with all round abilities would prove quite useful.
“When our main bowlers have an off-day, we have strong options to use others as bowlers and Kemp is one of them. Such options in the team for a 20-20 match, it is good for the team. Kemp is a big hitter. He can be an asset to the side.”
On Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, Dhoni said, “He is the best spinner in the world and still in international circuit. He can be useful in every format of the game. He is a great guy to have in the dressing room like Makhaya Nitini and others.”