Dhoni not concerned about India’s inexperienced batting line-up

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“It’s the first time that they will be going there, and they will learn a lot in the series”

With the tour of South Africa looming, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has announced the he is not concerned about the national team’s inexperienced batting line-up.

During the last tour of South Africa in 2010, India had veteran players like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman in their squad, but this time round, they will not have the luxury of leaning on the experience of one of their senior players if the team happens to find themselves in trouble.

However, Dhoni noted that the youngsters in the squad will only get better by facing the best of the best.

“Well if you see there is always a new start,” Dhoni said. “When paaji [Tendulkar] played his first Test match that was his first Test match.

“What’s fairly important is that they [the new batsmen] have a good amount of exposure – even though it’s ODIs – outside India. That always helps you adjust to the pace and bounce of the wicket. It will be a new challenge for all of them, at the same time it is a learning curve. It’s the first time that they will be going there, and they will learn a lot in the series.”

Despite many players in the squad never having played in South Africa before, Dhoni stated that they will be criticised just as much as anyone else if they fail to perform.

“There is one thing for sure,” Dhoni said. “If you don’t perform and you’re part of the team, whether you’re playing your first Test or 50th Test match, criticism goes hand in hand so that’s something you can’t really get away from. If you don’t perform you will be criticised.

“What they need to keep in mind, what’s really in their hands, is to prepare properly. Also, concentrate on what little things they need to do so that they’re successful. I think it’s all about that. Good exposure.”

Dhoni was also pleased to be starting the tour off with three ODIs as it will allow his side to get accustomed to the conditions before the two-Test series gets underway.

“I think it is always a challenge when you go and play abroad,” Dhoni said. “You are competing against the home team, and they know the conditions well. Their fast bowlers always know which length to bowl and also the areas in which they need to bowl. I feel the batsmen will have to quickly adjust to the bounce, see the deliveries which they can leave and push the bowlers to bowl at them instead of going to the bowlers.

“But of course starting with the ODIs it is always a help. When you get to play the shots, you get rid of nerve factor initially. We are playing three ODIs initially, the guys will be expressing themselves, will be playing shots and then they will be carrying it forward into the Test matches as well. The good thing is that there won’t be too many changes when you compare the Test squad to the ODI squad.”

The Indian skipper also pointed out that the youngsters in the team should be allowed to form their own legacies instead of constantly being compared to players like Dravid, Tendulkar or Laxman.

“If possible, we will omit the No. 4 position,” Dhoni joked. “One, two, three, five six, seven and then we’ll play till 12. But again, it’s not about one individual. Whoever bats at that slot, it is not pressure on that individual saying he is replacing Sachin Tendulkar. There is no replacing anyone. He brings his own character into the side.

“Whoever is going to bat at No. 4, as of now, we have not decided. There is hardly any break for us to decide who will bat at No. 4. But again, every slot, especially when talking about Test cricket, it’s an important slot. The top two, No. 3, No. 4, they have their own importance. It’s a set-up that’s given by them that really helps the team, score big runs and put a big total on board and give bowlers that extra help so that they can afford to try out a few things that need to be tried. Overall, we don’t know who will be batting at No. 4 but there is no replacing the individual.”

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