Dhoni’s mantra for his players: Adapt, assess and fire
Dhoni looked at the tour as an opportunity for some of the young cricketers to learn more about their own game. "It's not only about being extraordinarily talented. It's about knowing your limitations and not committing the same mistakes over and over," he said, reports Anand Vasu.cricket Updated: Feb 21, 2009 12:44 IST
These are strange times in international cricket. Australia have landed in South Africa, and for the first time in a couple of decades they have reached foreign shores without being overwhelming favourites. In the same breath, this is perhaps the first time India have come to New Zealand as firm favourites.
While India are traditionally not the best tourists, the New Zealand mystery has been especially hard to crack --- just one series victory (3-1 in 1967-68) and a solitary Test win. But MS Dhoni neither has time for this kind of history nor a fear of the immediate future.
"It's not about what's going around in the media or who is considered favourite. You start from scratch when you go out to the middle," Dhoni said at the series-opening press conference in grey and gloomy conditions. "Whatever we've been doing in the past one year, we have to do again." It's not the worst approach for a team, which hasn't always been at its best when dubbed the favourite.
India's chances on this tour are helped hugely by the penetrative fast bowling pair of Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan. "We have more firepower to exploit the conditions, whether they are seaming conditions or a batting paradise," said Dhoni, stressing on the need to hit the ground running. "It's important to practice well and adapt quickly. Most of the guys haven't toured New Zealand before. The first seven days will be important."
What goes in India's favour is the fact that the core of the team remains the same from T20 to the ODIs to Tests. "It helps that the same group is playing in the three formats rather than having five guys coming in just for the Tests," said Dhoni. "It takes them more time to get used to the conditions and that definitely doesn't help a lot."
Dhoni looked at the tour as an opportunity for some of the young cricketers to learn more about their own game. "It's not only about being extraordinarily talented. It's about knowing your limitations and not committing the same mistakes over and over," he said.
If Dhoni has proven one thing so far in his career, it is an extraordinary ability to adapt, to assess the situation and seize the initiative. Now, he is trying to get the team as a whole to do the same.