As the team India is getting ready for the ODI leg of their prolonged Australian tour, they simply aim to get hold of the big prize – the World Cup. Just before a tri-nation ODI series against Australia and England, the Indian captain MS Dhoni has said that it will be a preparation ground for their World Champions’ title defence.

Dhoni said, “In this series the most important thing for us will be to get the combination right for the World Cup. At the same time we will ensure that we don’t push the players who have minor niggles so they don’t end up being major injuries. We will give them the extra time because we want every player to be at least 80 to 90 per cent fit going into a game.”

However, as apprehended, few of our players with niggles are Ishant Sharma (left knee) and Ravindra Jadeja (left shoulder), about whom Dhoni said the two players will not be available for selection for the MCG ODI.

He said “There are quite a few players with a bit of niggle here and there and we are monitoring their progress. In tomorrow’s game, Ishant and Jadeja are not available for selection because we are managing their workload.”

With the availability of Mohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni, MSD has got a lot of viable options to explore. He clarified, “That’s the major thinking behind them being here. At the same time we will first select players from the 15-man World Cup squad. If we feel a player needs more time then we will look to add Mohit or Dhawal in the squad.”

Further justifying the role of Stuart Binny, he emphasized that being a seam bowling all-rounder, his services might prove useful as at some of the pace friendly venues.

He said, “We are playing a few games in Perth and New Zealand, where we felt the last time that there wasn’t much purchase for the spinners. That’s where Stuey may come in. Irrespective of all the debate, the best seam all-rounder in India has been picked. He is an exciting player – he bats aggressively and is a good bowler. If he gives me six to eight overs it’s more than enough.”

Stressing hard on the importance of excellent fielding, Dhoni opined, “Fielding is something we pride ourselves on. It is a major part of modern cricket irrespective of the format. We are a fantastic fielding side and it has reflected in the ODIs that we have played in the last few years. On grounds with big outfields it is important to judge where to stand because on these grounds the batsmen like to push the ball between two fielders and run two-three runs.”

Despite that fact that India had won Champions trophy in 2013, remained runners up in world T-20 against Sri Lanka, and are current World cup holders, Dhoni assessed the situation in a rather much realistic manner.

He added, “We have done well in the last two ICC tournaments and both of them were away, in Sri Lanka and England. But the conditions in Australia and New Zealand are quite different. You also have to keep in mind the form of the players and the little niggles that some of them are carrying. But yes, we will take a lot of confidence out of our last few performances in the ICC tournaments.”

He spoke about his bowling plans before signing off and said, “The execution of yorkers and bouncers becomes very crucial and that’s what we have been working on in the last few days. The bowlers are doing pretty well with the yorkers and if they can replicate in the match, we will be very happy with it.”


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