IPL not compromising India's success - Dhoni
MS Dhoni has insisted the IPL is not compromising the success of the India team. While the Twenty20 league has brought huge financial benefits to Indian cricket, the on-field benefits are less obvious. But while Dhoni accepted that India's record in international series following previous IPL seasons was modest, he felt the positives of the league far out-weighed the negatives.
With the IPL having only finished on May 26, India's arrival in England was delayed until May 29. While several other sides have enjoyed greater preparation time in English conditions - Pakistan have played Ireland and South Africa are playing Netherlands - India have time for only two warm-up games and have experienced only T20 cricket in very different conditions since their last ODI in January. And with the English summer living down to its reputation - India's hopes of outdoor training were hindered by rain on Thursday - it could well prove that India go into their first Champions Trophy match against South Arica in Cardiff on June 6 with little meaningful preparation.
"What you have got right is the stats," Dhoni said. "They say that, after the IPL we have not done really well. So you have the stats to back you up on that.
"But I don't think it's for the IPL to be blamed if you say we have not done well after IPL. Let's see how it goes. We have a few days before we get out and going in the business end of the tournament. Two practice games should be good enough. If not, then we'll have to play a little 15 game tournament before the start of the tournament.
"It's always good to come to England and play some cricket. We landed yesterday evening but the weather has not been really nice, so we are hoping it will turn out to be bright and sunny soon and we can go onto the field and start with some practice. I don't think we'll get good practice today, but from tomorrow maybe, yes.
"It looks good as of now. Nobody has got any niggles when it comes to the fitness aspect. It's very important that the full squad remains fit throughout the span of the period so that you're not forced to select your second 11 or third 11; it's always good to feature the best 11 in each and every game."
Apart from the opportunity of testing themselves against some of the finest players in world cricket, Dhoni also said that participating in the IPL had allowed his players to get into "good rhythm."
"You have to look at the positives," he said. "The players that are playing the IPL, they had good exposure to international bowlers because bowlers from all over the world, they come and play in the IPL, right from Dale Steyn to the best that the world has to offer, which means most of the players are in touch. They are in good rhythm.
"Also, this year was not really hectic. We have to travel, but we all know in India the hospitality business is really good so from the hotels to the airline business, I don't think that really pushes us on the back foot."
Dhoni said Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar might be key men for India in the Champions Trophy, suggesting that Jadeja's all-round skills would provide balance for the side and that Bhuvneshwar's swing bowling, with two new balls and in English conditions, could be a potent weapon.
"Of course with the new rules we'll be forced to play with five bowlers and Jadeja has done really well for us, giving us that balance that's really needed," Dhoni said. "We are hoping that he does well because it will be a great he'll be a great asset to the side with his stamina, with his bowling and a bit of batting down the order. I think he'll be someone who will really help us get the balance that's really needed in an ODI squad, and there are a few others. If it doesn't work there are a few others that can still do the job, and we have options in the side.
"Bhuvneshwar Kumar is someone who can swing the ball. Even in subcontinental conditions he is someone who can swing the ball both ways and he bowls in really good areas. It will be a good outing for him. He's someone who's really young, so he has plenty of cricket ahead of him. He just needs to enjoy the challenges that come in front of him. We all know he's someone who will do well, but we just have to see how he bowls from the 5th to the 8th because now, with the two new balls, he is definitely someone who will have an impact on the game."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo