Kingston: Back after a rejuvenating break, but Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is already a worried man as his pacers are struggling to be fit for the long season ahead.
"It is important that they are fit or else it will have an impact. It`s not that you are bowling four or 10 overs -- you could be bowling 25 overs, whether be a spinner or a paceman. You want your best bowlers to play and be at least 70-80 per cent fit for the longer format," Dhoni said ahead of the first Test against the West Indies that starts on Monday.
"Only then you will have the mental and physical space to achieve it," he added.
India is beset with injury worries ahead of the Test as lately impressive Munaf Patel is suffering from a right elbow injury.
Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth, originally named in the Test squad, could never accompany the squad here due to injuries.
One of the replacement bowlers, Abhimanyu Mithun of Karnataka, is yet to arrive in the Caribbean due to his visa issues.
And as if this was not enough, opener Murali Vijay picked up an injury on his right forefinger in his very first practice session on Friday. He left for an X-ray on his finger on Saturday.
India play three Tests in the Caribbean followed by four in England this summer. Later in the season, they visit Australia where four more Tests are slated in their calendar.
Amid all this, Dhoni wants his team to stick to the basics and look to play to its strength.
"We put a lot of emphasis on doing small things right. Irrespective of how many Tests you have to play abroad, if you do the basics right it will help us perform given the potential we have," stressed the all-conquering Indian captain.
"West Indies have a good bowling attack. But Test cricket is all about negotiating good balls and then push the bowlers to bowl in your areas; score enough runs for the bowlers to defend it," he explained.
Dhoni is aware that his side is without its best players but he sees it as an opportunity for the younger lot to prove its mettle.
"It`s a good exposure for youngsters. Tests are lot tougher. It`s important they play Tests and gain more experience. It would help them take right decisions; help them groom themselves.”
"You want each individual to enjoy cricket, you don`t want pressure on the youngsters and look to create an atmosphere where they are loving the challenge," he said.
"If there is no challenge, you don`t know their mettle. Fortunately, IPL has helped youngsters to play in front of 35,000 people.”
"Still they need help from seniors on how to conduct themselves on and off the field. All these little things contribute," he added.
The fortnight-long break from international cricket was a welcome one for Dhoni.
"Personally it helped me. Suddenly you find all those small injuries vanish. There is plenty of energy now and it`s now as if you are running on reserves. You are back in action.
"I could have net sessions where I could do my wicketkeeping, batting and bowling for fitness," he said.
"One thing I have never done, whether it was cricket in Ranchi or school, is to sit and think what I have done. May be you reflect on what you need to do to improve but as a cricketer, you need to stick to the basics. You need to have that frame of mind," he added.
Dhoni said neither riches nor fame and glamour have been the motivating factor for him.
"I love cricket, I love sports and that`s why you want to turn up in the field every time. I enjoy the competition against the opponent; always trying to be honest, fair and competitive.
"It`s a basic urge (in me), be it in gully cricket, school or anywhere else. Everybody has the same perception about sport and the same it has been for me; be it gully or international cricket," he said.