Finally, there was an effort to change the poor image the India team had cultivated of late, by leaving for the Asia Cup, World T20 and last week’s brief tour to Bangladesh without addressing the media. On Saturday, skipper MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher calmly took questions ahead of what is expected to be a long and intense tour of England.
Some of the duo’s explanations were more an admission of fallibility besides a promise to correct past mistakes. “It is important not to forget that the last couple of series in England and Australia were disappointing. But at the same time, the last time we played in South Arica and New Zealand, we were in situations where we could not close out the game. That gave us confidence that we can win games,” Dhoni said.
MS Dhoni inaugurated the club house at JSCA Stadium in Ranchi before leaving for Mumbai. (P Khan /HT photo)
Poor recent record
India have failed to win a Test on their last four overseas tours, to England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. The last tour of England, in 2011, was the start of India’s overseas slump. Dhoni said: “In 2011-12,there were plenty of things going around; there were injuries, we missed one fast bowler (Zaheer Khan broke down in the first Test) and that put pressure on other bowlers. We didn’t have part-timers who could give us a breakthrough.
“We know the mistakes we committed. The focus will be initially to get into groove and capitalise on the 50-50 situations we get into in a Test. If we get on to a good situation, it is important to seize it, put pressure on the opposition, carry the intensity forward and at the same time have the instinct to finish the game off,” said Dhoni.
India are taking 18-member squad for the five Tests. “It’s a challenge for youngsters to play a five-Test series. It might look a big squad but injured players will be replaced, it will also give them a fair idea about the conditions and what length to bowl.”
Dhoni was dismissive of the tag of ‘tigers at home’ but felt the key would be the batsmen digging in to take the load off the bowlers.