Port Elizabeth: With their nose slightly ahead, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not overtly worried about the poor show of his batsmen in the ongoing ODI series against South Africa and said the team has learned to cope up with the absence of big players.
India are playing the series without the opening duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar also returned home mid-way due to a hamstring injury and paceman Praveen Kumar is also missing.
But Dhoni said the absence of stars is a blessing in disguise for the younger crop of players.
"I think both the teams are suffering from it. I am not really worried about it, but what is important is we had two close games. If you see, in the last one year we have missed quite a few big players, especially in batting department. The bowlers too had injuries and some were rested. So I think the team has become used to it," the Indian skipper said.
"But of course it`s good for youngsters because the conditions here are tough and if they play more matches under these conditions, they will learn more. It`s not that demanding on flat tracks, you learn to read the game well here. You have a score of 300-325 in mind in the sub-continent and all of a sudden you find that 190 can be defended.”
"It`s a different aspect over here. You get lots of experience by playing such matches," Dhoni said.
India is leading the low-scoring series 2-1 and Dhoni said the top-order need to find its mojo back in the crucial fourth one-dayer at the St George`s Park here tomorrow if the visitor`s desire to seal the series in their favour.
"Our batting department, which we always say is our big strength, need to click together as a unit," he said on the eve of the penultimate match.
"Of course the lower order has done really well, but at the end of the day it is the batsmen who will have to take the pressure. Hopefully, we will perform according to our potential tomorrow," he said.
Talking about the mood going into the match, Dhoni said, "Mood is the same. When we lost the first game we felt it was very important to have a positive state of mind. We will try to be in the same state of mind. Mentally we cannot fluctuate too much."
"I think we always concentrate on the process. We don`t really see what the scorecard is saying or what the series analysis is. For us it`s another game," he added.
Dhoni hinted that a few bowlers may be rested tomorrow but not pace spearhead Zaheer Khan.
"We need him. Zak (Zaheer) hasn`t played too many ODIs in the last one year, so it is important for him to get back into the groove before the World Cup. In the sub-continent it will be demanding for the fast bowlers because it is early part of the year.”
"I think match practice will definitely help. If needed we can give rest him in the two warm-up games that we have in India," he said.
Talking about the effects of playing back-to-back close games, he said, "They drain you more mentally than physically because you are a bit more involved. You are thinking a bit too much compared to some of the games where you win easily. I think it`s a bit more demanding compared to the games where you win easily or lose easily."
The India skipper was full of praise for spin spearhead Harbhajan Singh, who has been impressive in the middle overs in the series so far.
"Of course Harbhajan has done really well. He is bowling as well as you have seen him throughout his career. So that`s a big plus for us. We are regularly using him in the powerplay," Dhoni said.
Dhoni said the team is never concerned about the result of a match.
"We are not thinking about the result, it`s the process that is important for us. We know if you take care of the process, the results take care of themselves. For us it is important to play good cricket," he insisted.