|Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in Mumbai. (PTI)
Mumbai: Faced with yet another overseas challenge, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has urged his teammates to sharpen their finishing touches.
India will play a five-match Test series in England, which begins on July 9, in Trent Bridge.
Dhoni, addressing a pre-departure media conference, said that his team will have to capitalise on the 50-50 situations. “The series in England and Australia in 2011-12 were very disappointing for us… But when we went to South Africa and New Zealand, we were not really able to close the games.
“It was a good effort by our bowlers, but we were denied by some fantastic batting from the opposition. When we come to a 50-50 situation, we should capitalise on that,” Dhoni said on Saturday.
On the personal front, Dhoni has decided to play his normal attacking game irrespective of the situation. “As far as my batting is concerned, I need to be far more aggressive. When I am aggressive, I am far better than when I try to play like a proper batsman. I intend to go for my shots from the first ball.
“I have to back my instincts… When there are six-seven batsmen, it is very important to back my strength and not think too much about the situation,” he said.
As a captain, Dhoni was happy with the fact that the team was reaching England early as that will help the players adjust to the conditions, play two practice games and get into the groove for the Test series.
“It’s good that we are going early so that we can get into the groove. It’s a long series and it’s not very usual to play five Tests. Overall, it’s looking good. We have got enough time to prepare,” he said.
With the Indian squad comprising 18 players, Dhoni hoped that there will be enough cover in case of injuries. “It looks like a big squad, but it is needed considering the duration of the tour. It increases the bench strength and you can replace injured players and also help in having quality practice sessions when the main bowlers take some time off,” he said.
Dhoni also highlighted the importance of maintaining the required over-rates. “When you play a four-match Test series outside India, you get banned. So I have to ensure that we maintain the over-rate… You want to have some kind of plan and bowl according to that.
“If you are too many overs down, then, at times, there is the pressure to maintain over-rate using the spinners when you actually want to bowl the fast bowlers,” he said.
Coach Duncan Fletcher felt that since this Indian team is relatively young, they wouldn’t be carrying any burden from the disastrous campaigns in England and Australia in 2011-12.
“This is a relatively younger side with an added advantage that it doesn’t carry any baggage. They have played some good cricket in South Africa and New Zealand. Potentially, it is a good side,” Fletcher said.
On England, Fletcher said: “They are also in a rebuilding phase and they won’t have Kevin Pietersen, which will be a huge blow to them. It will make the tour quite interesting. Our focus will be to get (Alastair) Cook and (Ian) Bell out quickly. We have to go there and adapt to the conditions fast.” (Agencies)