Dhoni keeps hopes on Chawla's talent as he backs surprise entry

Cape Town: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today defended Piyush Chawla's inclusion in India's 15-man World Cup squad, saying the legspinner's presence provides variety to the attack.

Chawla has been a surprise inclusion in the squad, announced today by the Kris Srikkanth-led selection committee in Chennai.

"It is good to have Piyush in the side as he provides that variety to the attack. He is one guy who can bat a bit. He has scored decent runs in Ranji and also while playing in County circuit. If we plan to play with five bowlers, then he can be a handy number seven or eight batsman," Dhoni said on the eve of India's third ODI against South Africa here.

Chawla has been picked despite not playing a one-dayer since July 2008, and Dhoni was aware of that.

"I would always say that playing in first class match or IPL match and playing in the international match is different. Piyush needs that international match practice," the India skipper said.

Names like Rohit Sharma, S. Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma missed out on selection but Dhoni said that the reserve players should be in a proper frame of mind during the tournament.

"If you are in the reserve and if any batter or bowler gets injured then you are going to come in. So it is important to be in a good frame of mind," he said.

"At the end of the day you can pick only 15 players and somebody is going to miss out. So I would say that you should do well in whenever you get to play and then wait for your chance. India need to improve their fielding and focus more on bowling at the death.

"We have to improve in the fielding department. If we get one odd run out or take few outstanding catch, it can turn the course of the game. At the same time we have to put in lot of thoughts and work on bowling in the death overs. When we are going to play in the sub continent, bowling in the death becomes crucial," he said.

"In Sachin Tendulkar's absence, Virat Kohli, in all likelihood, will open with Murali Vijay, with Rohit Sharma coming in at number three in tomorrow's match," Dhoni added.

"We will be looking out for giving a few players an opportunity. Even otherwise we have lost quite a few players through injury. We have seven batsmen left here, so all of them will get exposure before the World Cup."

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