September 30, 2010

Dhoni unperturbed with crowded schedule


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Indian skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, finds no problem in playing continuous cricket and he sees no reason to complain about the overdose of international matches.

"If we complain now - three days after the home series against New Zealand we will be in South Africa - we will be complaining the whole year then. We all knew exactly what the schedule was and how exactly we are positioned," he said on the eve of the first Test against Australia starting in Mohali on October 1.

"I don't believe much in strategizing before the match. A lot depends on the conditions available at a given time. A successful batsman will adapt himself to each and every condition, so the basic plan remains the same. Most of our players have played against Australia, both home and away. Whatever time we got was enough to get our plans in place," the Indian captain said.

"Some of the players were together before some of the boys came after the Champions League. Equal importance was given to cricketing skills and fielding aspects. I think we have made best use of the time we got ahead of the series and hopefully it will reflect on the field,” Dhoni felt.

Obviously Dhoni can’t be expected to speak against the policies of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but the fact remains that it’s indeed a bit risky to be getting together just two days before a Test series.

The Champions League T20 in South Africa ended just a few days before the start of the home series against Australia and the fitness of the players could be tested severely in the days to come.

Murali Vijay had just one day of training while Dhoni and Suresh Raina got only a couple of days for warming up for the first Test. Their spirits must be sky high after powering Chennai Super Kings to title win but what about the state of their bodies. Are they made of steel or have shock-absorbers inscribed to take the pressures of long air travels.

Rahul Dravid, playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore, also had very little time to acclimatize. Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan could have faced similar dilemma had Mumbai Indians moved farther in the Champions League.

While Dhoni played down the issue of acclimatizing the Australians looked at it entirely differently and they were concerned about the late arrival of Doug Bollinger and Michael Hussey, both of whom also played in the Champions League, as the rest of the squad had descended in Chandigarh more than a week earlier.

No surprises that India and Australia think of such matters so differently. Little wonder then about the results. The Australians often win the opening match of a series while the Indians are more often watched using the first Test as net practice for the next game.

"Generally we are very good starters as well. Our record starting Test-match series is very good. That's one area we can focus on a little bit more, making sure that we start the game well knowing in the back of our minds that India generally are slow starters. I'm sure they're aware of that as well. I'm sure that's something they've spoken long and hard about over the last few years," Australian captain Ricky Ponting emphasized.


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