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21 February 2024

India's Dhoni excited by World Cup progress

MS Dhoni of India runs out David Miller of South Africa during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup match between South Africa and India at Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 22, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Getty)


Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his team was on the right track at the World Cup after hammering South Africa by 130 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Shikhar Dhawan hit 137 as the defending champions piled up 307 for seven and then bundled out the Proteas for 177 with almost 10 overs to spare in front of 86,878 largely Indian fans.

The win followed the 76-run win over arch-rivals Pakistan in Adelaide last Sunday and left Dhoni's men needing a win over unfancied United Arab Emirates in Perth on Saturday to advance to the quarter-finals.

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"It is very satisfying to have back-to-back wins and especially the way we have won both games," a delighted Dhoni said.

"Both Pakistan and South Africa games were important for us. Against Pakistan it was a complete batting performance and this game too I felt we did really well with the batting.

"A total of 307 was definitely a par-plus score on this wicket and when we turned up with the ball, I think we bowled in the right areas and we made it tough for the opposition to score."

Dhoni agreed with South African skipper AB de Villiers that the pitch was two-paced in the second session which made batting difficult, but praised his bowlers and the team's fielding.

"I felt the mix of pace was good from our bowlers, but what was really crucial was the use of the bouncer," he said .

"The two run outs in the middle overs (of AB de Villiers and David Miller) from the deep really changed the game for us."

Dhoni heaped lavish praise on his fast bowlers, Mohit Sharma and Mohammad Shami, who claimed two wickets each to back up off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin's three wickets.

"It was definitely a fantastic performance by them," he said. "Maybe the wicket also helped us a bit, but still it was important to hit the right areas. They quickly assessed what was the right length to bowl. They never gave any extra width to the batsmen."

Dhoni said it was a pleasure playing in front of such huge crowds at the MCG.

"It's always good to play when you get good support and that too in Australia," he said.
"Definitely we need to give a lot of credit to the fans, who have come not only from India, but from across Australia and England as well."

Dhoni was not surprised that his team had bounced back quickly after a disappointing bilateral tour of Australia prior to the World Cup where they lost both the Test and one-day series.

"You need to give a lot of credit to the support staff and the players for the good dressing room atmosphere despite the losses on the tour," he said.

"We had a long break, relaxed and then trained hard. That has helped."