New ODI rules a challenge - Dhoni
India captain MS Dhoni has said one of the challenges facing the side in England during the Champions Trophy will be adjusting to the new ODI rules. He said the team had enough time to acclimatise, with two warm-up games scheduled before the opening match against South Africa on June 6.
Since the new rules were implemented in January, India have played ODIs at home but this will be their first experience of them in foreign conditions, where the seamers will have a bigger role. Captains have said the rules haven't been fair on the bowlers, especially the spinners, with not more than four fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle at any stage of the innings. Bowlers can bowl two bouncers an over and the Powerplays will have to be completed by the 40th over.
"There are a few challenges like the new ODI rules and we will be playing outside the subcontinent for the first time under the new rules," Dhoni said in Mumbai ahead of the team's departure for England. "We will have to adjust to the new rule of five fielders being inside (the circle), the length they need to bowl, how quickly they adapt to the wicket, which areas to bowl.
"The good thing is we have two practice matches leading up to the tournament. We also have enough time before the first game, so there is enough time to adjust."
In the past, India have fared poorly in tournaments staged immediately after the IPL. The team failed to make the semi-finals in the 2009 and 2010 World T20 tournaments, but Dhoni said the players' form during the IPL was encouraging.
"With the kind of fitness level that is going around right now, each and every member is looking fit," Dhoni said. "All of them have played good cricket in the IPL or before the IPL. So most of them are in very good touch. As far as the fitness is concerned we have not received any official reports about any player being unfit, so that is a good sign."
Though the seamers are expected to play a major role, the squad has three spinners in R Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja. India's coach Duncan Fletcher felt the spinners will have an important role to play at certain venues.
"As MS mentioned earlier it is generally going to be seamer-friendly, you never know, like Cardiff for example, it is known there to be a turning wicket, very slow and not very different to what you might get in India," Fletcher said. "You've got to be prepared to play two spinners. If one is injured, there is a back-up. We have a balanced side."
India will be without their regular opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, both dropped on form. Dhoni was confident that the new pair of Shikhar Dhawan and M Vijay would carry forward their form from the Test series against Australia.
"Our two openers had done well at the Test level recently," Dhoni said. "I know it is a different challenge in the ODIs, you have to accelerate but at the same time it is important that we have a good start from which we can capitalise on, and as Duncan rightly said this is an opportunity for the youngsters. Shikhar and Vijay have been very consistent."
Dhoni was reminded of India's last ODI series in England, in 2011, where the side lost the five-match series 3-0 after losing all four Tests. Dhoni said the team had fared better than the results suggested.
"Rain was a big factor, we lost all the tosses. It didn't even reach the stage where it could have decided by Duckworth/Lewis," Dhoni said. "The spinners had to literally deal with the wet ball and it was not possible for them to use their skills. The performance of the ODI squad was good, if you don't see just the results."