No injury worry for Team India: Dhoni
Zeenews Sports Bureau
Melbourne: India captain MS Dhoni is confident that India would field a fit and competitive side for the first Test of the series against Australia that starts from December 26.
Speaking on the fitness of the bowlers, Dhoni said, "It`s good to see both (Ishant and Zaheer) in action. We have missed Zaheer quite a few times. The pacers are shaping well. Hope the best XI is available for the first Test."
"We've tried to take as much precaution as we could (regarding Zaheer and Ishant). We've tried our best whatever we could do. Players have also played their part, they worked outside the field also, in the gym and the rehab sessions they needed to do. They have put in a lot of effort in practice. Hopefully, they wouldn't have any injury.”
"Everyone's fit for the game. All players are looking fit which you need for the format of the game. We don't need to be worried (on fitness count)," he added.
Talking to the reporters in Melbourne, Dhoni said that his team’s strategy is to outwit the hosts in the maximum number of sessions. According to him, this is the simple way to the beat the Australians at home.
India look to register their maiden series win Down Under.
He also hoped that the unlike the last series in 2008 this series would controversy free.
"It is something we don`t really want to do as professional cricketers, there is a lot at stake. We hope for a controversy-free but at the same time it is important to keep it interesting,” said Dhoni.
"Individuals do make mistakes. But as a professional cricketer, you don't want it. There is a lot at stake, people look up to you, so you want it controversy-free. Still, it's important you make it interesting," said Dhoni referring to the 2008 series when ugly exchanges between the two sides almost led to the tour being abandoned midway.”
All hell had broken loose during the second Test at Sydney when India was at the receiving end of a few controversial decisions, capped by the "Monkeygate scandal" which dragged a few players of the two teams into the chambers of a court.
On Virender Sehwag Dhoni said, "He is a key player for us along with other batsmen. Sehwag can put the opposition under pressure and does not give the bowlers many warm-up balls.”
"If it's the first delivery or the last ball before stumps, he would score. It doesn't matter as long as it is in his areas. It's good to have him in the side. He enjoys the way he plays. He backs himself to play those shots," he said.
"We've taken care of the preparation- if 12-14 days are not enough then even one month wouldn't be enough. We've worked and looked at preparation from all angles so that once we are on the field, we can play by instinct and not worry about other factors.
"Our batters have toured here in the past. They know these conditions well. The first practice wicket (in Canberra) was very different, a bit on the slower side. But this one in the nets here has a bit more bounce which is useful," he said.
Dhoni is conscious of the fact that everyone expects his team to win the present Test series but he doesn't want to lose sight of the immediate task.
"How we start in the first Test is important. We want to be in the moment. Break the match into sessions, try to win more sessions than the opposition team. If we win enough sessions, we will win the Test. Our emphasis would be on small things, not where we want to be at the end of the fourth Test.”
"There's no point in taking that extra pressure. It will not help us. We need to keep it simple."
Dhoni then went on to speak about a few individuals of the side, including Sachin Tendulkar, who everyone expects to get his 100th international century at the MCG.
"He (Sachin) keeps it simple. He would get it, sometime in this or the next Test, this or the next series. It is on the way. It isn't something he wouldn't achieve. But if he gets it soon, everyone would feel relieved.”
"Getting 100 hundreds is something really big. If you ask me, he's played more international cricket than we have even practiced. He also shares a lot with youngsters who are new to the side. Everyone in the world would cherish the moment when he gets his 100," Dhoni said.
On the speculation surrounding Ishant's fitness, Dhoni said, "Ishant is a very honest player. He works really hard at the nets. In a few years he has been with the team, he's someone who turns up on the field and gives his 100 per cent. He has a good attitude.
"He plays 60-70 per cent of his cricket in India where it's difficult to motivate yourself for even if you bowl 140kmph, the ball hardly reaches the wicketkeeper."
Dhoni also had words of praise for young off-spinner R Ashwin, whom he expects to do well in the series.
"It's good to have him, he has few variations. Even when wicket is not helping him, whether he is getting help or not, he adapts well. That's a big positive. The wickets here would be different from the sub-continent as he would get good bounce. He can capitalise on it but he needs to be patient.
"Spinners have key roles in longer format especially. As the game goes and the wicket becomes slower, you need spinners to make use of the foot marks. You need them to keep things tight, give time off to fast bowlers and give crucial breakthroughs. They have a very crucial role."