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MS Dhoni wants to step up aggression for England series

The Indian team were humiliated 4-0 the last time they toured England and will be looking to make amends for that series © Getty Images
The Indian team were humiliated 4-0 the last time they toured England and will be looking to make amends for that series © Getty Images

Mumbai: Jun 21, 2014

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday said that finishing games at the first opportunity will be crucial for his side against a strong team like England during the upcoming five-match Test series beginning July 9 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

“2011 series in England and Australia was very disappointing series for us but when we went to South Africa and New Zealand we were not really able to close the games. It was a good effort by our bowlers but we were denied by some fantastic batting from opposition. When we come to 50-50 situation we should capitalise on that,” said Dhoni at the pre-departure press conference here on Saturday. He was referring to the first game against South Africa at Johannesburg and the second and last match of the series against New Zealand at Wellington later on. The 18-member Indian squad is set to depart for England in the early hours on Sunday.

Dhoni said that he has decided to play his normal attacking game irrespective of the situation India will find itself as the playing eleven will have seven batsmen. He said he wants to back his instincts and go for his shots. “As far as my batting is concerned, I need to be far more aggressive. When I am aggressive, I am far better than when I try to play like a proper batsman. I intend to go for my shots from the first ball. I have to back my instincts. Six to seven batsman when you play, it is very important to back my strength and not think too much about the situation. It is very important that I back my strength and play aggressive strokes and score runs rather than taking my time out,” he said.

Dhoni said it was good that the team was reaching England early, which would help the players adjust to the conditions before the two practice games and get into the groove for the five-match Test series which India would be playing in England after five decades.

“For quite a few players it’s a first tour to England but have had exposure in South Africa and New Zealand and have a few games behind them. It’s good we are going early so that we can get into the groove. It’s a long series and not very usual to play 5-Test match series. Overall, it’s looking good. We have got enough time to prepare,” he said.

Coach Duncan Fletcher said despite the comprehensive losses in 2011-12 to England and Australia, this was a relatively young side and won’t carry that baggage. “It was disappointing to lose to England and Australia, but this is a relatively young side with an added advantage that it doesn’t carry any baggage. They have played some good cricket in South Africa and Australia. Potentially, it is a good side,” Fletcher said.

He said England team was also in a rebuilding phase but they have got some good batsmen in captain Alastair Cook and Ian Bell. “They are also in a rebuilding phase and they won’t have Kevin Pietersen which will be a huge blow for them. It will make the tour quite interesting. Our focus will be to get Cook and Bell out quickly. Their bowling side is still experienced with Anderson and Broad. We have to go there and adapt to the conditions fast,” said Fletcher.

Dhoni said it was a good thing that the team comprised 18 members as in the last tour in 2011 they had too many injuries and players had to be flown in. He was referring to Zaheer Khan breaking down on the first day of the Test series after bowling a few overs and R P Singh, who was holidaying in United States, was inducted into the second Test straightaway without getting acclimatised to the conditions.

“In 2011 in Tests and ODIs we had close to 8-9 injuries. We missed one fast bowler [Zaheer Khan] which put pressure on the other players. Last time we lost quite a few players due to injuries and we had to play few players without them getting used to conditions. It looks like a big squad but it is needed considering the duration of the tour. It increases the bench strength and you can replace injured players and also help in having quality practice session when the main bowlers take some time off,” he said.

Dhoni was also keen that his side maintain their required over rates as the fast bowlers can be brought in when needed, instead of trying to complete the requisite number of overs by using a spinner. “When you play a four-match Test series outside India, you get banned. So that is something I have to look forward to maintaining the over rate. So we have to see we keep the over rate up, we are not in a rush to do things. You want to have some kind of plan set and bowl according to that. If you are too many overs down, then at times there is pressure to maintain over rate with the spinners when you actually want to bowl the fast bowlers,” he said.

The England tour commences on June 26 with a three-day game in Leicester. The visitors are to play one more warm-up three-day game against Derbyshire (July 1-3) before the five-match Test series starts on July 9 at Trent Bridge. The remaining Tests are to be played at Lord’s (July 17-21), The Rose Bowl in Southampton (July 27-31), Old Trafford (August 7-11) and The Oval (August 15-19).

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