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Wary skipper refuses to go with favourites' tag

cricket Updated: Dec 13, 2011 02:20 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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Despite India's poor outing in England, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men have been billed the favourites in the four-Test series Down Under, which gets underway with the traditional Boxing Day Test on December 26.

But neither Dhoni, who joined the team after a fortnight-long break, nor coach, Duncan Fletcher, was willing to indulge in a verbal volley before leaving for Australia - considered to be the toughest territory for the visitors when it comes to winning a Test series.

No complacency

"If we are complacent before going there, it is not good for the team," said Fletcher, hours before the 10 players boarded a flight on Monday night. "It is important we go there with the feeling that they have the best of bowling attack and good batsmen in their ranks. We've got to be wary and put up the right kind of performance."http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/13-12-pg19b.jpg

Perhaps, the India think-tank is wary of waging a war of words considering that the bowling attack, just like Australia, is not in the best shape. Even though Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma outdo the Australians in terms of experience, their fitness is weighing on the skipper's mind. No wonder Dhoni hoped that his squad would remain injury-free during the long tour.

Opportunity beckons

Despite the captain and coach's reluctance to admit that the tour was perhaps India's best chance of winning a series in Australia, former Australia greats like Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist have already voted in India's favour.

"Missing big names in the present set-up is one of the reasons why few people think this is our best chance," said Dhoni. "But we did well that time also and quite a few things happened in the series. Most of you watched it. We will try and keep such things away from the side. We are a good side and we need to do well on the field. This is what we are focusing on."

With Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh, the protagonists of Sydneygate, which overshadowed cricket during India's last Test series in Australia four years ago, missing, Dhoni hoped the fireworks to continue, but in a different way. "We'll try and keep the fireworks off. It is not about fireworks that go on the field, still there are chances (of fireworks) since we have seen that both the sides have talented players," he said.

"If someone like Sehwag gets going, there will be fireworks on the field. Not on verbal side but with the bat. And if the bowlers get going, the ball will do the talking. Hopefully, we will keep controversy away."