Kirsten ‘the best thing ever’ for Indian squad: Dhoni

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010, 11:56 AM IST

Durban: Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said that having South African Gary Kirsten as his team’s coach, has been a blessing and a wonderful experience.

Describing Kirsten as the “the best thing ever” to have happened to the Indian squad ahead of the first Test against South Africa, Dhoni warned the host cricket team not to think they can force India’s batsmen into submission with a short ball war.

"We are so used to that question – about how we will handle it when we are bombarded with short balls," a website quoted Dhoni, as saying with a smile.

"The answer is that it won’t bother us. Most of our batsmen have recently played quite a lot in South Africa and are much more familiar with conditions than was the case in the past," he added.

“That is why we don’t pay attention to what history says about what happened here in the past. We don’t think too much about the statistics,” he said with regard to India’s Test record of one victory in nine attempts since 1996,” Dhoni said.

Dhoni believes his team has batsmen who are equipped to survive a bouncer-war.

“It will be important for us to adapt to the conditions. Yet, I believe we will be better prepared than before, because the guys have played here in the Indian Premier League and in the Champions League and it is not that foreign to them,” he said.

“The most important thing is to remain focused and well prepared for what awaits us.”

“Gary Kirsten is the best thing that could’ve happened to Indian cricket. He not only knows our players but also understands the mindset of the South Africans and that insight will be important,” Dhoni said.

He says the turning point for India was in September 2008, and since then there has been a process which has brought the team to the top of the Test rankings.

ANI