Cricket will embark on a new and exciting mission when India lock horns with West Indies in their maiden international game in the US tomorrow. The two Twenty20 Internationals over the weekend will be the first instance of India being involved in a competitive match in the USA. Mahendra Singh Dhoni will return to lead the side in the two limited overs games at the Central Broward Regional Park, the only purpose-built cricket stadium in the US. It is the only ICC certified ODI standard stadium facility in the USA and hosted six Caribbean Premier League matches last month. Dhoni interacted with the media ahead of the first T20I and spoke on various topics ranging from his excitement to play in the US, his fitness, Anil Kumble and much more.
On the facility:
As far as the facility is concerned, it is as good as you would get anywhere in the world. Yes, the stadium is not that big, though when it comes to the playing area it is a perfect ground
Also, what we have to see is that it is a new venture for cricket. Looking at everything, it is a perfect staging ground. Few of other international teams have already played here, also not to forget that some of the T20 leagues have happened. The infrastructure looks good. Overall it is a big occasion. Stepping into the USA for the first time as the Indian cricket team.
As far as effort is concerned, I always felt the USA was a big market, a lot of sub-continent people stay here, not only Indians. I feel it is a good start. The timings (broadcast) are also good. It feels good to be here. Earlier people living in the US used to travel to the West Indies to support us but now they have the opportunity to catch the action here itself
On the high expectation of the Indian population, who will be watching the team playing live for the first time:
The Indian team is used to expectations and when it comes to expectations in cricket it is only to win the matches. And the Indians residing here have always supported us. It will be a good opportunity for them to see the Indian team playing live for the first time.
On how he maintained his fitness after remaining away from the team:
During this (break) time, fitness is quite easy to maintain. The reason is you have ample time to prepare. What becomes a slight issue is the cricketing aspect. There was a lot of rain back home in India so most of the schedule was indoor with a bit of bowling machine to go with it. There was not much outdoor activity. Anyway feels good to be back. Also, this year we won’t be playing a lot of limited overs cricket so this gives us an opportunity to make the most of two days we have.
On West Indies:
I would say in limited overs format, the West Indies are extraordinary. They have the right balance, they are entertaining as well. It will be very interesting (the two-match series). It is an early morning start here but it won’t make much of a difference.
On working with Anil Kumble:
I learnt a lot from Anil Bhai, especially in Tests though I have also played with him in ODIS. The way he used to bowl to a batsman, how accurate he was, his consistency was amazing.
Also, how clear he was in his thinking and game plan. All of that will help him as a coach. Modern day cricket is all about adjusting and that is something that Anil Bhai did very well. Apart from that, he is a straightforward guy. The last couple of days with him has been interesting. The more time I spend with him, I get to know him even more as a coach.