England v India, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge July 8, 2014

India are improving overseas - Dhoni

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Agarkar: Ashwin ideal if India play five bowlers

MS Dhoni believes he has seen enough on the tours of South Africa and New Zealand to be convinced his side are heading in the right direction.

India have not won an overseas Test since Jamaica 2011, but they did come close to winning one each on their previous two trips. In a way this series will be a bigger test for them just through the sheer duration of it - five Tests - but he also has a struggling opposition and pitches that are not likely to be to the hosts' liking.

Dhoni sounded accordingly optimistic. "There have been a lot of changes in the Indian side in the last one-and-half or close to two years," he said. "If you talk about the last two Test series that we played abroad - in South Africa and New Zealand - the performance of our team was really good.

"Though we lost both the series, we were definitely in a position to win the series or a Test. So I felt there's plenty to learn for the cricketers. If I compare between the first Test we played in South Africa and the last Test we played in New Zealand, there has been considerable improvement. You know, it's a right way of moving ahead."

Dhoni chose to stay focussed on "process" more than "results". "It is important for us to take the team forward and give them the right guidance, so that they get the right kind of exposure to do well outside India," he said. "Of course it will be a challenge for them, but as they play a lot more matches abroad, the equation will get much better also. It's a constant process."

One of India's main problems away from home has been the unreliable quicks, and they have not had great results in the tour games. However, Dhoni was not overly worried about the pressure they will be under and had words of encouragement for Ishant Sharma who struggled during the warm-up fixtures.

"The good thing is that we have got some time to adjust to the conditions here," he said. "They have done the fitness part in the 10-12 days. Now we are going through a phase where we are easing the workload on the fast bowlers. They have been bowling in the right areas, and making the batsmen play which is very crucial in this part. Overall they are looking good.

"Hopefully we don't have too many injuries like it had happened in the last series [2011]. I remember we had close to nine or 10 injuries to our top players. And as far as Ishant [Sharma] is concerned, he is bowling well. It's very important to get into a good rhythm. So far he has been bowling well and he is also someone who can get a bit more bounce than some of our other bowlers."

The nature of pitches in England has changed significantly from the time India last toured here. They might not be what England would love, but Dhoni said they had not changed to an extent that they would help the visitors.

"If you come over here, then the first thing the home team would like to do is to ensure that the pitch will not turn at least in the first three or four days," he said. "I don't see any good reason - at most venues - for us to think about two spinners. I think they will look for a hard wicket to start with so that it does not turn and takes the spinners slightly out of play. We are playing five Tests and may be in one venue you may get a pitch where we can play two spinners. So, I don't think we are too confused about the playing XI now."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • pcraju on July 9, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    i meant murali Vijay..he has scored a century to calm my nerves. let him play well in the entire series consistently then I agree he can be retained in the playing 11. We can swap Gambhir for Dhawan as well.

  • Chaitanyareddy90 on July 9, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Well jocke by dhoni. In his captency india 0-12 in oveseas.any captain has this record

  • on July 9, 2014, 9:51 GMT

    best off luck dhoni, nd best wishes

  • Vikram_Rathore on July 9, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    ALL THOSE GUNNING FOR ASHWIN: He one of the fastest to Test 100 Wickets...Has an average of ~40 batting at number 8! Even if you argue that he took most of his 100 wickets in India, his predecissors such as Harbhajan or Kumble, had also played more matches in India than outside India. Besides, Indian pitches are no longer dust track turners they used to be in 80s, 90s & even 2000s. I can't believe you guys feel Rohit Sharma (who has poorer average than Ashwin as a batsman should be in the team, but Ashwin, in spite of his bowling explots should not be!. I find it absolutely illogical!

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on July 9, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    @pcraju: murali kartik? Dude, its Murali Vijay you're talking about, not Kartik.

  • tinkertinker on July 9, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    Losing to the 8h ranked team is improving?

  • pcraju on July 9, 2014, 6:47 GMT

    @kalyan, I totally agree with your comments. It is dhoni's laid-back playing style on the field that has lead to the overseas defeats in SA and NZ. He is not aggressive and doesn't make the right moves. He persists with the same bowler for long period of times even when he doesn't deliver. Too many rotations during bowling is not good, but dhoni doesn't do any rotations and doesn't bring the bowler in form at the right time. He is really playing "book" cricket for international test matches. I wonder how come BCCI or Fletcher is not intervening in this. Why they're not pointing out such mistakes? Doesn't fletcher bring his coaching skills in such circumstances? Dhoni is very clever as well in ignoring public opinion as well as any experts comments. My suggestion would be to have an expert panel consisting of past indian cricketers like Dravid, Kumble, Ganguly, Kapil, etc. They should have a say for the team. Dhoni should have some pressure. He is enjoying a comfort zone right now.

  • Rahul_78 on July 9, 2014, 6:46 GMT

    When Ishanth Sharma is leading your bowling attack then Captain needs to be very realistic of his teams chances of taking 20 wickets. The best case scenario for Indians will be to score decent runs and expect spinners to come in to play from day 3 on wards. Everyone is speaking about Indian bowlers being under pressure but Indian batsmen will have to do the job over 5 test and score consistently. Anderson and Broad are playing on their backyards and if any left hand opener wants to get in form then he should play against India. If Cook scores a century in any of the 1st two tests it will have tremendous baring on the results. Another weak area for Indians has been catching in sleeps and over all catching in 4th innings. Kohli has dropped some very crucial catches at important moments in the past. All in all make no bones about it but India are going in as overwhelming underdogs against England even though English skipper is under tremendous pressure and England are not winning recently

  • TATTUs on July 9, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    I think what he means is since he took over! Otherwise from series wins in WI , Eng NZ and Drawing in SA ,SL and Fighting in AUS , we have gone to losing n to zip in all countries. That cant be 'improving'.

  • chin-music on July 9, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    "Improving overseas" ??? In recent years, the only thing more pathetic and cringeworthy than Indian team's on-field whitewashes overseas, has been the inane bleating of Dhoni about how all these thrashings are "part of focus on process" & "how things are improving". I suppose clutching at straws has been taken to such an extent by Dhoni, that simply not getting whitewashed (technically) by SA & NZ is now to be celebrated as an achievement & therefore technically an "improvement" over the Eng/Aus whitewashes of 2011.

  • pcraju on July 9, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    i meant murali Vijay..he has scored a century to calm my nerves. let him play well in the entire series consistently then I agree he can be retained in the playing 11. We can swap Gambhir for Dhawan as well.

  • Chaitanyareddy90 on July 9, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Well jocke by dhoni. In his captency india 0-12 in oveseas.any captain has this record

  • on July 9, 2014, 9:51 GMT

    best off luck dhoni, nd best wishes

  • Vikram_Rathore on July 9, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    ALL THOSE GUNNING FOR ASHWIN: He one of the fastest to Test 100 Wickets...Has an average of ~40 batting at number 8! Even if you argue that he took most of his 100 wickets in India, his predecissors such as Harbhajan or Kumble, had also played more matches in India than outside India. Besides, Indian pitches are no longer dust track turners they used to be in 80s, 90s & even 2000s. I can't believe you guys feel Rohit Sharma (who has poorer average than Ashwin as a batsman should be in the team, but Ashwin, in spite of his bowling explots should not be!. I find it absolutely illogical!

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on July 9, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    @pcraju: murali kartik? Dude, its Murali Vijay you're talking about, not Kartik.

  • tinkertinker on July 9, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    Losing to the 8h ranked team is improving?

  • pcraju on July 9, 2014, 6:47 GMT

    @kalyan, I totally agree with your comments. It is dhoni's laid-back playing style on the field that has lead to the overseas defeats in SA and NZ. He is not aggressive and doesn't make the right moves. He persists with the same bowler for long period of times even when he doesn't deliver. Too many rotations during bowling is not good, but dhoni doesn't do any rotations and doesn't bring the bowler in form at the right time. He is really playing "book" cricket for international test matches. I wonder how come BCCI or Fletcher is not intervening in this. Why they're not pointing out such mistakes? Doesn't fletcher bring his coaching skills in such circumstances? Dhoni is very clever as well in ignoring public opinion as well as any experts comments. My suggestion would be to have an expert panel consisting of past indian cricketers like Dravid, Kumble, Ganguly, Kapil, etc. They should have a say for the team. Dhoni should have some pressure. He is enjoying a comfort zone right now.

  • Rahul_78 on July 9, 2014, 6:46 GMT

    When Ishanth Sharma is leading your bowling attack then Captain needs to be very realistic of his teams chances of taking 20 wickets. The best case scenario for Indians will be to score decent runs and expect spinners to come in to play from day 3 on wards. Everyone is speaking about Indian bowlers being under pressure but Indian batsmen will have to do the job over 5 test and score consistently. Anderson and Broad are playing on their backyards and if any left hand opener wants to get in form then he should play against India. If Cook scores a century in any of the 1st two tests it will have tremendous baring on the results. Another weak area for Indians has been catching in sleeps and over all catching in 4th innings. Kohli has dropped some very crucial catches at important moments in the past. All in all make no bones about it but India are going in as overwhelming underdogs against England even though English skipper is under tremendous pressure and England are not winning recently

  • TATTUs on July 9, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    I think what he means is since he took over! Otherwise from series wins in WI , Eng NZ and Drawing in SA ,SL and Fighting in AUS , we have gone to losing n to zip in all countries. That cant be 'improving'.

  • chin-music on July 9, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    "Improving overseas" ??? In recent years, the only thing more pathetic and cringeworthy than Indian team's on-field whitewashes overseas, has been the inane bleating of Dhoni about how all these thrashings are "part of focus on process" & "how things are improving". I suppose clutching at straws has been taken to such an extent by Dhoni, that simply not getting whitewashed (technically) by SA & NZ is now to be celebrated as an achievement & therefore technically an "improvement" over the Eng/Aus whitewashes of 2011.

  • on July 9, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    This team is improving overseas. It is becoming outstanding from very good. Every player in the team in that SA and NZ series played their part except Dhoni and his clones. SA, 1st test, Why was Shami not brought in straight after tea on final day? 2nd test, had Dhoni and Jadeja batted till and a little beyond Lunch, the match and the series would've been a draw. Instead they gifted their wickets and the series. In NZ too, was he sleeping during Bmac and BJ partnership. Those 2 series were lost because, as a captain,as a test batsman, Dhoni does not know how to close games. Everyone else performed. It is sad to see Mr captain blaming the team for his personal failures. Player like Dhawan, Puji, Kohli, Rohit, Rahane have nothing to learn from him in terms of test match batting or temperament or captaincy. He is the burden, the real issue with this team that should be addressed. Get Gambhir opening, Saha in, with the same bowling attack, I'll see how India won't win games.

  • pcraju on July 9, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    why do we still have murali kartik in the playing 11. Is he an international player at all? why does Dhoni stick to his favorite playing 11 always when he knows that they've not delivered in the past? I prefer gambhir over murali karthik. Slow bowlers like Ashwin or Jadeja have not been match winners in the recent past. They're not genuine spinners. We need a genuine spinner in the side who can threaten the opposition. We don't need useful players but we need match winners. Only with batting we cant win matches. Dhoni is assuming that he has won all the cups for India so if he loses test matches and overseas series it doesn't matter. Whatever he talks in the press conference are cooked talks. He needs to get real, make himself and his players accountable for team India. Players should not be playing based on past success and history. Unfortunately only in Indian team that is possible where captains or famous players retain their places based on past history.

  • vish2020 on July 9, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    really dude??? really????? scoring couple of extra runs from previous series is nothing if you don't win! get over yourself. your record as a captain in tests is ridiculous

  • on July 9, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    Improving the losing record!

  • AbuManha on July 9, 2014, 0:24 GMT

    thing about MS Dhoni i admire and adore and love is his humbleness. he says STATS dosent matter it is how you on the given day and in moment. very well and truly said. Example

    Brazil is 5 time world champion VS Germany who is 3. again goes back to wha Dhoni said stats dont matter what matter is how you play on that given day.

  • criccritic1 on July 8, 2014, 23:06 GMT

    Dhoni now starts his excuses before even the game starts.. this guy needs to leave the team and get someone a chance... loosing so many series overseas should be good enough reason to let him go as he is not going to resign on his own and media is not going to talk anything bad about him (as they are afraid of something, who knows what) !!!

  • aaayushh on July 8, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    Bhuvaneshwar, Shami ,Ishant should be the three seamers for tomorrow.Prefer Ashwin over jadeja as he is both a better bowler and batsman than him in tests. England also have some lefties in their side.

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  • aaayushh on July 8, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    Bhuvaneshwar, Shami ,Ishant should be the three seamers for tomorrow.Prefer Ashwin over jadeja as he is both a better bowler and batsman than him in tests. England also have some lefties in their side.

  • criccritic1 on July 8, 2014, 23:06 GMT

    Dhoni now starts his excuses before even the game starts.. this guy needs to leave the team and get someone a chance... loosing so many series overseas should be good enough reason to let him go as he is not going to resign on his own and media is not going to talk anything bad about him (as they are afraid of something, who knows what) !!!

  • AbuManha on July 9, 2014, 0:24 GMT

    thing about MS Dhoni i admire and adore and love is his humbleness. he says STATS dosent matter it is how you on the given day and in moment. very well and truly said. Example

    Brazil is 5 time world champion VS Germany who is 3. again goes back to wha Dhoni said stats dont matter what matter is how you play on that given day.

  • on July 9, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    Improving the losing record!

  • vish2020 on July 9, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    really dude??? really????? scoring couple of extra runs from previous series is nothing if you don't win! get over yourself. your record as a captain in tests is ridiculous

  • pcraju on July 9, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    why do we still have murali kartik in the playing 11. Is he an international player at all? why does Dhoni stick to his favorite playing 11 always when he knows that they've not delivered in the past? I prefer gambhir over murali karthik. Slow bowlers like Ashwin or Jadeja have not been match winners in the recent past. They're not genuine spinners. We need a genuine spinner in the side who can threaten the opposition. We don't need useful players but we need match winners. Only with batting we cant win matches. Dhoni is assuming that he has won all the cups for India so if he loses test matches and overseas series it doesn't matter. Whatever he talks in the press conference are cooked talks. He needs to get real, make himself and his players accountable for team India. Players should not be playing based on past success and history. Unfortunately only in Indian team that is possible where captains or famous players retain their places based on past history.

  • on July 9, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    This team is improving overseas. It is becoming outstanding from very good. Every player in the team in that SA and NZ series played their part except Dhoni and his clones. SA, 1st test, Why was Shami not brought in straight after tea on final day? 2nd test, had Dhoni and Jadeja batted till and a little beyond Lunch, the match and the series would've been a draw. Instead they gifted their wickets and the series. In NZ too, was he sleeping during Bmac and BJ partnership. Those 2 series were lost because, as a captain,as a test batsman, Dhoni does not know how to close games. Everyone else performed. It is sad to see Mr captain blaming the team for his personal failures. Player like Dhawan, Puji, Kohli, Rohit, Rahane have nothing to learn from him in terms of test match batting or temperament or captaincy. He is the burden, the real issue with this team that should be addressed. Get Gambhir opening, Saha in, with the same bowling attack, I'll see how India won't win games.

  • chin-music on July 9, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    "Improving overseas" ??? In recent years, the only thing more pathetic and cringeworthy than Indian team's on-field whitewashes overseas, has been the inane bleating of Dhoni about how all these thrashings are "part of focus on process" & "how things are improving". I suppose clutching at straws has been taken to such an extent by Dhoni, that simply not getting whitewashed (technically) by SA & NZ is now to be celebrated as an achievement & therefore technically an "improvement" over the Eng/Aus whitewashes of 2011.

  • TATTUs on July 9, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    I think what he means is since he took over! Otherwise from series wins in WI , Eng NZ and Drawing in SA ,SL and Fighting in AUS , we have gone to losing n to zip in all countries. That cant be 'improving'.

  • Rahul_78 on July 9, 2014, 6:46 GMT

    When Ishanth Sharma is leading your bowling attack then Captain needs to be very realistic of his teams chances of taking 20 wickets. The best case scenario for Indians will be to score decent runs and expect spinners to come in to play from day 3 on wards. Everyone is speaking about Indian bowlers being under pressure but Indian batsmen will have to do the job over 5 test and score consistently. Anderson and Broad are playing on their backyards and if any left hand opener wants to get in form then he should play against India. If Cook scores a century in any of the 1st two tests it will have tremendous baring on the results. Another weak area for Indians has been catching in sleeps and over all catching in 4th innings. Kohli has dropped some very crucial catches at important moments in the past. All in all make no bones about it but India are going in as overwhelming underdogs against England even though English skipper is under tremendous pressure and England are not winning recently