Indian captain M.S. Dhoni said the break from cricket had revived the team’s energy levels, which should help it cope with the forthcoming back-to-back games in the Compaq Cup tri-series.

Asked if the break had left the team fresh or rusty, Dhoni said: “The answer always seems to depend on the results, doesn’t it? If we win we are fresh; if we lose we are rusty. I’d appreciate it if such judgments (from the media) could be made before the match.

“But I have to say we’ve been able to put in more effort after the break. We feel in better condition than we did in the West Indies. Our energy levels are up, our intensity is up -- (they have to be) because back-to-back matches are challenging in these conditions.”

Dhoni said Gautam Gambhir’s absence, after the opener aggravated a groin strain, would be a “big blow”, considering Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan weren’t available as well. “But in the past guys have always tried to fill the shoes of those who are injured. That is one of the things we have done well,” he said.

“Of course you miss someone like Gambhir, hope he gets fit for the Champions Trophy, but at the same time it gives someone else an opportunity to prove himself at this level.”

Karthik to open

Dhoni said Dinesh Karthik, who has looked in fine touch in both net sessions on tour, would open the batting with Sachin Tendulkar.

“Dinesh has done well in the West Indies as an opener,” said Dhoni. “We’ll see how he goes -- it would be unfair to give him just one match. Virat (Kohli) who is the replacement is not really an opener.

“The last time (during the one-day series here in 2008) Sehwag got injured in practice and we asked Virat to open and he did well. But it would be unfair to push Virat into it. I would rather give him a chance where he has the best opportunity to perform.”

No pressure

Asked about the team’s composition, Dhoni hinted that India will play three seamers and a spinner. Was the opportunity to become the top-ranked side added pressure? “If we play to potential on the field the rankings will take care of themselves,” he said.

“It’s about preparation, adapting, and playing two tough sides, which have good seamers and experienced spinners. This is one of those venues where the toss plays a crucial role. So we’ll look to take it one match at a time and not worry about the rankings.”


New Zealand bundled out for 155 in must-win game September 11, 2009

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