JOHANNESBURG, Sept 28 (PTI): Indian cricketers are no longer wary of South African pitches after the Champions League Twenty20 tournament hosted here, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni told an Afrikaans daily.
Dhoni, who spoke to the newspaper after beating local team Warriors in the final, said that pitches in South Africa are no longer alien in nature for the senior India players.
“Most of our players played here during the second edition of IPL and now also in the Champions League Twenty20.
“The experience of playing on these pitches has been invaluable,” Dhoni said. The Indians will be touring South Africa during the end of this year.
The Indian players in the CSK ranks such as top-order batsmen Murali Vijay (294 runs) and Suresh Raina showed their mettle in the league games, as did spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 13 wickets.
Dhoni described Ashwin as an “aggressive character” who is up for any challenge.
“He is a very smart bowler who does not need much guidance and knows what is expected of him,” Dhoni said, adding that he believed Ashwin would be a key player in the South African tour.
Despite winning the biggest prize in world cricket of 17 million rands, Dhoni said the victory on Sunday was tinged with sadness because some of the players would play for different teams during the next edition of IPL — courtesy fresh auctions.
“After being together for three years, the core won’t remain the same as few of the players will play for different teams. That’s why we badly wanted to win this tournament. That’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ having enjoyed playing together for the past three years,” Dhoni told the newspaper not forgetting to mention that Wanderers was very special for him as he led India to victory in the inaugural World T20 in 2007.