It's too early to predict IPL winner: Dhoni

The team that 'gels well' in the league matches would be the ultimate winner of the inaugural IPL Twenty20 tournament, according to MS Dhoni.

updated: April 22, 2008 13:59 IST
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The team that "jells well" in the league matches would be the ultimate winner of the inaugural Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament, according to Chennai Super Kings' captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Talking to reporters on the eve of his team's second league match against Mumbai Indians XI, Dhoni said, "The teams have played just one or two matches. You cannot make any assessment on this basis. There are lots of matches left. There will be ups and downs. The team which gels well throughout will be the winner."

Asked about the possibility of Sachin Tendulkar playing in Wednesday's match, the India ODI captain said, "When he (Sachin) plays no team cannot plan against him. Hopefully one ball will keep low and he may get out."

Dhoni said the IPL has got the right kind of start it needed.

"The start has been great, McCullum's batting has been solid one. Fans also got what they wanted. They saw some huge sixes, dance by cheerleaders, teams piling up huge scores and bowlers taking wickets. It provided excitement for the fans."

Dhoni, who left for his hotel from the stadium after the practice session on his new Harley and Davidson bike, ruled out the possibility of his opening the innings. Dhoni stressed on the need to have solid starts and maintain the momentum all the time in Twenty20 format.

"In ODI you get time to settle down and then score. But in Twenty20 you need to score from the start and will not get time to settle.

"We have openers like Australian Matthew Hayden. Even if he leaves (next month for national duty), we have another opener in Stephen Fleming. They are capable of giving solid start. I will be looking to build from that in slog overs."

On the composition of his team for Wednesday's match, the 26-year-old Jharkhand player said he would stick to the 16 which played in the last match "but will decide on the playing eleven before the match tomorrow."

The Super Kings skipper admitted that his team's bowling is rather weak. "We have to make the most of it with the available bowlers. We have to motivate them to bowl on the right areas," he said.

Another area of concern, according to Dhoni, was fielding. "It's average so far. Hopefully it will improve as the tournament progresses."

About playing with Hayden, who was involved in some acrimonious face-offs with the Indian team in their recent series Down under, Dhoni said, "Then, two nations were pitted against each other and the Aussies are always known for their aggression. Right now we are concentrating on the IPL rather than the issues of the past".

Asked about the dressing room atmosphere especially in the presence of top international players, he said it gave a chance for them to get to know each other better.

"The players get to know each other better now. It gives an opportunity to understand each other's culture well. The youngsters, especially the under 19 players, will get the right kind of exposure," he said.