India in New Zealand 2013-14 January 18, 2014

Dhoni satisfied with India's preparations


One luxury modern Indian cricketers usually do not have is warm-up games before an international tour begins. Five days of practice sessions at the sprawling Nelson Park is what India have had before the first ODI against New Zealand across the road at the compact McLean Park, and MS Dhoni sounded satisfied with his side's preparation.

"I think preparations have been good," Dhoni said after India's nets. "We were given very good facilities. The ground we were given opposite the stadium, we were given good pitches there. The practice wickets were almost like centre-wicket, so we had good practice. Net bowlers were also made available. So from the preparation point of view, it has been good. And we have looked into each and every aspect of not only batting and bowling, but fielding also, which will be very crucial. So most of the areas have been covered and we have had a few days to prepare."

The Pacific Ocean bore a sombre look under overcast skies last evening and this morning, although it didn't rain. But winds have been quite strong and persistent on most days, and Dhoni said that required plenty of adjustment in all disciplines. "When you are batting, you have to pick a side [where] you are looking to play more shots. There is always a risk. If it stays as it is, there is quite a strong breeze. The straight boundaries are quite long so if you are hitting there against the wind then there are chances that you have got another extra ten yards. All that makes it quite crucial. So you have to be intelligent about it, which areas you want to pick.

"With the bowling, especially bowling against the wind, it is slightly more demanding. It is an obstruction and you tend to get tired slightly quicker. Fielding also, the outfields seem quite slow, the grounds are not big, so you need to judge where to stand so batsmen don't steal doubles from you. All in all, reading conditions does help so you can adapt accordingly."

Dhoni expected the wind, as well as the pitch, to help the fast bowlers. "The wicket looks good, dry and hard, looks good for ODIs. Fast bowlers will get extra bounce. Intelligent bowlers may use the wind to their advantage, if you bowl in the right areas the ball may swing for a duration of time. Normally it stops after 10-15 overs, but here it may be prolonged a bit. Bowlers will have something from the wicket but once the batsmen get set they will love the pace and bounce."

Most of the India players in this squad have never played internationals in New Zealand before, and Dhoni said it would be good exposure ahead of the 2015 World Cup. India are scheduled to play two group games in Auckland and Hamilton, while New Zealand will also host a quarter-final and a semi-final.

"It will be good for the team because we will have players who have already played in those conditions and particularly at venues where you will be playing, so overall it will be a good tour for us."

A gulf separates the two teams as far as the ICC rankings go, but New Zealand are a "fantastic side", Dhoni said. "They have always been a side that is very contributive. They back each other. Fielding is something that is very important for them. They put a lot of emphasis on it and they have individuals who contribute in different ways - bat, ball - and they have got quite a few of them. So that really helps, in the shorter format especially. Whenever you see the big tournaments, they do very well, so they are a side that is very well respected. Fantastic individuals to play against."

In the absence of Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni also has to decide on whom to play at No. 4, but he wasn't ready to reveal much at this stage, only saying that India would not tinker too much. "We will see what suits us the best and then we will move ahead. As of now, after the Greg Chappell era, experimentation is something we have done away with. We don't really experiment anymore. We will give chances to a few players and hopefully they will rise up to the occasion and accept the challenges they are pushed into."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Amit on January 19, 2014, 0:01 GMT

    Don't play two spinners in any of the games...Tests or ODI...just one spinner.

  • Dummy4 on January 18, 2014, 22:38 GMT

    I'm not exactly excited by the Caps chances, though the team is starting to unearth some real talent, but am anticipating watching the Indian team through the ODIs and especially the two tests.

    Thank you for touring India :)

  • ANTRIKSH on January 18, 2014, 21:46 GMT

    Knowing that Indian team is visiting New cannot forget about Virender Sehwag and the blistering standout performances he had in NZ in our previous 2 series there, and that too against all the odds...esp in utterly forgetful late 2002- early 2003 series just before the WC 2003, where he scored 3 spectacular centuries when neither of our esteemed batsmen could stand the fury of Shane Bond and Co. on pitches tailor-made for pace, bounce and swing of extreme levels.... Really would have loved to see Sehwag in the Indian team and regain his lost form with a blitzkrieg here !!!!!

  • Muthuvel on January 18, 2014, 20:31 GMT

    Play Binny instead of Ashwin or jadeja and play Aaron instead of Ishant, and based on how Bhuv goes replace him with Ishwar pandey. Ishant must not get a game.

  • Abraham on January 18, 2014, 19:28 GMT

    Rayudu & Binny should be given a chance to play in the ODI games. Team India should play 4 seamers and one spinner in all games ( Tests & ODIs). I think we are getting obsessed with the number 4 spot. This spot should be filled purely on merit. Some thing which is a very hard ask in Indian Cricket !!!

  • ESPN on January 18, 2014, 18:27 GMT

    Playing at foreign conditions won't b easy for India . We have already seen India having trouble playing in South Africa . India is so different when playing away from home

  • Ashok on January 18, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    India never had a proper #4 in either Raina or Yuvraj. Ideal choice would be Pujara - not a Dhoni Favourite. Alternate choice in this squad is Rahane, who is technically sound. So all this #4 debate is a futile one. Focus more on strategy, Tactics & XI selection. Dhoni says that the wind & Pitch will assist fast bowlers. Will India go with 4 seamers + 1 spinner or 3 seamers + 2 spinners & who these will be. India has Aaron- the quickest @145 KPH. He should be the #1 choice along with Shami. Other 2 seamers could be Ishant or Kumar. If 2 spinner option is taken go with Jadeja & Ashwin- both can bat better than Binny. So composition of XI is crucial factor. Once this is decided batsmen can be Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli, Rahane, Raina & Dhoni. Each of these 6 have to contribute in a big way for India to win. Patience, Discipline & strike rotation are key factors.Avoid Run outs at all costs. India has an excellent side & if they play to their potential they should win. Dhoni is the X-Factor!

  • Srinivas on January 18, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    This series will be a good learning curve for the kiwi players in dealing with a top team like India. The question is not whether India will win but how well the Kiwis can limit the damage and stay away from massive defeats. India will win the series. But goodluck to Kiwis. They are nice blokes and I wouldn't be sad if such nice blokes can win a game or two against us. Goodluck to both teams.

  • Ronak on January 18, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    May be its time to give Stuart Binny a chance.......might be worth a try !!!!!!!

  • Tanmay on January 18, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    @GRVJPR - Raina & Ashwin have been out of form since long....but they still get in the Raina played part in only 2 wins since World Cup 2011....a 60* against Sri Lanka in July 2012 & 80* against England last year in India...apart from those 2 innings he has not done it will be better if someone else is given an opportunity at number 5 spot...Rayudu or someone like Karthick or Uthappa who is a finisher in IPL can be useful at number 5 with Dhoni to follow...

    Ashwin is unplayable in India in tests on dustbowls...but he goes for plenty in ODIs in India - he was taken to cleaners by the Aussies in recent ODI series...the less we talk about Ashwin's ability overseas is better as he is why not give chance to other spinners as there are other states too that play Ranji Trophy & are far more better than an average spinner like Ashwin...

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