Often, the Indian cricket board has been criticised for putting the interests of its billion-dollar T20 League ahead of the national team. It is under scrutiny for the same issue as India left port to take part in the Champions Trophy on Wednesday morning.
The MS Dhoni-led team's main challenge in the limited-over tournament, to be played in England and Wales, will be to overcome fatigue factor as they head into the event after the gruelling 53-day T20 League.
Whenever the Men in Blue have taken off for world events after the T20 League, the results have been disastrous. They did so in 2009 and 2010, when they played the World T20 Cup, within days of culmination of the League. Their stay in the tournament on both occasions was short-lived.
“That's a difficult question,” admitted Dhoni when asked about the lack of time for the players to recover. “The reason being is that you have stats to back that up. We are hoping that with the kind of fitness level that is going around right now, each and every member is looking fit,” he added.
Given the expected playing conditions during the tournament, the key to the team's success will be the pace and opening departments. In Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dhoni has a decent pace attack, but he will not have the same confidence in his openers.
“When it comes to this fast bowling line-up, you can see there are people who can exploit the conditions, you have someone like Bhuvneshwar who can really swing the ball and Umesh has got the pace. It is just that we will have to adjust to the new rules of five fielders being inside the ring.
Banking on openers
On the openers, he said, “Our two openers have done well at the Test level recently. I know it is a different challenge in the ODIs, but Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay have been consistent, and they have been rewarded for that. We are hoping they do well so that middle order is not under pressure.”
There is a question mark over whether the India players will be in the right frame of mind given that there is so much controversy around the game.
“As far as the Champions Trophy is considered, everything is looking good and don't think there is anything that will bother them,” said the captain.