Hamilton: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni loves players who can take challenges head on and for him that's the reason two of his trusted lieutenants Ravichandran Ashwin and Shikhar Dhawan have been his stand-out performers for the Indian cricket team in the ongoing ICC World Cup.
"The spinners have really bowled well. As far as Ashwin is concerned, obviously he's someone that I always love to have, the reason being I always pushed him to bowl in the powerplays and even have used him whenever I'm in difficult situations. So he is really confident about his bowling. He understands his bowling well," Dhoni said about his leading spinner, who has taken 11 wickets in five games so far.
"I believe he (Ashwin) has learnt a lot in the last few foreign tours. The good thing with him is that he keeps improving himself. Every time he's part of the series, he sees the challenges and accordingly he improves. So it's obviously good to have him, and it's good to see him bowl really well," the skipper said.
Shikhar Dhawan on Tuesday cracked a scintillating century as rampaging India demolished Ireland by eight wickets to seal the top spot in the Group-B table.
Asked how much faith he has in Shikhar Dhawan, the Indian captain said that left-hander's attitude towards improving himself as a player gives him confidence.
"You know, it's important to back players, and we try to do it to the extent we can. And I felt though he (Shikhar) had a tough series, still I felt we had put a lot of effort in him, and not to forget without his contribution it would have been very difficult to win the Champions Trophy. So we always believed in him.
"But the final step needs to be taken from the individual and I felt he prepared well for these ODIs," Dhoni said.
He also spoke about a player needing that 15 minutes to get into the zone and said that's what happened with Dhawan.
"It obviously takes time but I have always said, it's those 15 minutes that really changes everything. I'm glad he got those 15 minutes. What he's doing well is making the most out of it. As you know you may go through tough periods where you may not score runs, and you may get good deliveries, but it's important to think about the process," said Dhoni.
"Whatever your limitations are, you keep improving on those areas. Whatever your strength is, you make sure that whenever it is in that particular area you make the most out of it by getting a boundary.
"But overall the difference I've seen in his (Dhawan's) batting is once he gets a start he makes a good score -- you can say he takes that as an opportunity to reward that start into big innings, and right from the first game that's what he's done," Dhoni said while lauding Dhawan, who now has 333 runs from five games.
He said that Dhawan is not someone who gets satisfied with a half-century and is always hungry for big scores.
"He's (Dhawan) not someone who is happy getting a 50. He knows that the team needs him to score big runs. So once he gets to his 15, he hits the next milestone which is a hundred.