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

  • Chinnappa 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.

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

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

  • Android on July 9, 2014, 9:51 GMT

    best off luck dhoni, nd best wishes

  • Vikram 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!

  • Ashok on July 9, 2014, 8:29 GMT

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

  • sfsdf on July 9, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    Losing to the 8h ranked team is improving?

  • Chinnappa 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 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

  • ramachandra 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'.

  • Sumit 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.

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