Our away tours have been good: Dhoni
For the longest time it was with that ‘burrowed’ Test side that saw Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy ascend to a point of invincibility and sink to the depths of ignominy.
In a way this New Zealand tour is about starting afresh. The logo on the team’s shirt is new. Many new faces have already cemented their positions in the order. So while the transition from one generation to another happened when a Sachin Tendulkar-less side stepped down on South African soil for the two-match Test series, it is against the Kiwis and in the series’ following where the real tests lie. In South Africa, they fought well but their weaknesses were exposed and now it is for everyone to see if they possess the gumption to win abroad.
The Indian captain though already feels that they have shown that courage in South Africa in December.
“If you see, South Africa, is the last series we lost. Before that in the England and Australia series, we didn’t perform that well. Apart from that, wherever we have gone, we have done well. We did well in West Indies, New Zealand and South Africa. This is a tagline that gets stuck to us... but for us, we like to do well as a team," Dhoni said during his team's pre-departure press conference in Mumbai on Saturday evening.
“In fact, if you look at the South Africa series also, we played well in the Test series. We lost the second Test because of the two to two-and-a-half-hour session where we played really bad cricket, because of which, we were on the receiving end. Apart from that, our tours have been good. But people are skeptical because of the last time we played in England and Australia," he added.
This tour to New Zealand (starting with the one-day series on 19 January) not only provides Dhoni a chance to see what composition works best for India in Tests but also gives many players an opportunity to acclimatize to unknown conditions in New Zealand, the co-host of the 2015 World Cup.
“As far as experience is concerned, yes, the next World Cup will be in Australia and New Zealand, so most of the players will get the feel of the wickets. When I first went to New Zealand, the fielding position was confusing. The shapes of the grounds are very unusual," Dhoni said. "We had to keep fine leg very deep and from a wicket keeping angle it looked like it was square leg. So it takes time to adjust. Overall, it would be a good exposure," he added.
Dhoni failed to elaborate what the positives from South Africa really were and what the team needed but he did give hints as to what his team lacked - batsmen who failed to negotiate the bounce and bowlers who relied too much on swing and really need to hit the deck on drier surfaces. He suggested that the spinners play with patience and that the team will keep an eye on Stuart Binny and see if he proves to be the all-rounder that India so dearly need.
He predicted an exciting series in New Zealand and said that some of the matches, depending on the wickets the hosts provide, could be high scoring, especially with the new ICC rules.
There was no sign of concern from a man who knows of his track record outside of India. There was no sign of worry over an inconsistent bowling attack that seems to let them down or a batting line-up still unsure of its true prowess. Those questions will, for most part, be answered once India take guard at Napier.
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