Plenty More to Come in Finals: Dhoni Warns Sri Lanka

S S Ramaswamy/Mumbai
Plenty More to Come in Finals: Dhoni Warns Sri Lanka
Ahead of the World Cup cricket final, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni today issued a veiled warning to the Sri Lankan team that India has not played to its fullest potential and "there is plenty to come".

He also said his team is prepared to take on veteran spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.

Dhoni indicated that Pacer S Sreesanth may be brought into the Indian team in place of injured Ashish Nehra for the summit clash against Sri Lanka in the World Cup cricket final here tomorrow.

Giving the Lankans a piece of his strategy, he said, "There is plenty to come. Still we have done quite well in the tournament. We have won one game with quite a few runs in pocket and another with quite a few wickets. If we do everything we can it will be very interesting (match).

"You want to end the tournament on a good note. It's a big game for all of us. Irrespective of what the result is, I am proud of the team I have," he added.

With swing bowler Ashish Nehra virtually ruled out of the grand finale due to a multiple finger fracture he suffered in the semifinal clash against Pakistan, Dhoni appeared to indicate his preference in the toss up between S Sreesanth and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

"Ashish is most likely ruled out as he's got multiple fracture on one of his fingers," he said adding that the choice could be between Sreesanth and Ashwin.

"If you see the Mumbai track, there's a bit of pace and bounce for the seamers initially and there is a bit of reverse swing going. The third seamer can have an impact on the game. An extra seamer means I am able to manoeuvre the bowlers," the skipper said at the pre-match press conference," Dhoni said.

The skipper, who had surprised everyone by keeping Ashwin out of the Mohali encounter after his good performance in two matches, said, "With a spinner, if you have three spinners along with a part-timer, you don't have room for manoeuvre. But whatever opportunity Ashwin has got, irrespective of where he has fared, he has done really well.

"We have confidence in him but we are not clear about whether to go with three seamers or two seamers and one extra spinner," he said.

Sreesanth had not played after the tournament opener on February 19 against Bangladesh at Mirpur, and asked how he can slip into his groove after such a lengthy absence from the middle, Dhoni said it can be done if one looked at tomorrow's final as just another game.

Dhoni said, "Don't look at it as the final but as another game. Sree has done well for us in most of the games he has played. He's one character who can definitely swing the ball and get you early wickets."

He said choosing one individual over other was difficult hoped whoever was chosen would perform at his best.

"Unfortunately, we have not been able to give him (Sreesanth) more chances to play. Even in the first game he played, I thought he did not bowl badly. After that we gave chances to other individuals which I think were needed at that point of time. It's more about who suits the condition more. Let's hope whoever plays just performs," said Dhoni.

Asked about Sreesanth's on-field antics, Dhoni said, "The only person who can control Sreesanth is Sreesanth himself. It's beyond my control. He's a player who gets excited when it comes to big games. If he's playing he will be in a good frame of mind."

He conceded that the team was a bit drained after the semifinal victory against Pakistan in Mohali but was happy that there was only a short gap between that emotion-charged match and the final.

Speaking about Muralitharan, Dhoni said in a lighter vein that the retiring spinner, who is carrying a knee injury, will play even on one leg if it comes to that.

"As far as Muralitharan is concerned, he's a very special individual and was part of the Chennai Super Kings (IPL franchise) for the last three years.

"He's a very good character to have in the dressing room and an equally good opponent. He plays fair cricket, he believes in himself and he's a great entertainment on the field. I think he will definitely play the game unless he is on one leg," he said.

Dhoni said though it was coach Gary Kirsten's last match as India coach, the team was focusing on the game and not what comes later.

"Everyone wants to do well in this game including Gary. It's about the present, we all know what Gary has done to the team, how he has changed Indian cricket, the dressing room atmosphere and the effort he has put in it. We will think about it later. First things first, it's the final tomorrow," he said.

He said that in tomorrow's final, the team winning the toss would like to bat first and put up a score to defend.

"It's a big game, being the final. More often than not most teams would love to bat first, put runs on board and put pressure on the opposition. I feel that will be the only aspect.

"The wicket may become slower as the game progresses but I don't think there will be too much of a difference apart from handling pressure which may be more in the second innings," he said.
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