Mahendra Singh Dhoni says playing in alien conditions and that too without Sachin Tendulkar is a big challenge for his side but the skipper is hopeful that playing one-dayers first will allow his batsmen settle well ahead of the Test series against South Africa.
India will play three-match ODI series ahead of two-Test series in South Africa.
"If you see there is always a new start," Dhoni said on absence of Tendulkar, who retired recently last month.
Dhoni said his batsmen have plenty of experience in the shorter format of the game and playing ODIs first will give them confidence for the Tests.
"Many of them have had good exposure if not in Tests, but in ODIs. It is a new challenge for all of them and a new learning curve. It is always a challenge when you go outside."
"It is good to start with ODIs as the batsmen can play their shots and express themselves and carry it into the Tests," he said ahead of the team departure.
Asked who will perform the duties of the third opener in Tests, which has only two regulars – Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, Dhoni surprised everyone by naming Gautam Gambhir, who is not part of the 17-member squad.
"Gautam is definitely the third opener that we are considering. As of now, Vijay and Shikhar have done really well for us. So a third opener as of now is Gautam."
Later he clarified, "I know (Gambir not being in team) but he is the third opener."