CRICKET / ‘Save for England, Australia, we’ve done well abroad’

Most of the questions M.S. Dhoni faced on Saturday prior to the Indian team’s departure for the tour of New Zealand pertained to the side’s recent performances abroad.

“In South Africa, the last series, we lost. Before that, in the England and the Australia series (both 4-0 losses), we didn’t perform that well. Apart from that, wherever we have gone, we have done well. We did well in the West Indies, New Zealand (series wins) and South Africa (drawn series in 2010-11),” Dhoni said. “This is a tag (of being poor tourists) that gets stuck to us. But, for us, we like to do well as a team.”

On the tour of South Africa, the Indian captain said the side paid the price for failing to sustain its quality in the second Test at Durban.

“We played well in the Test series. We lost the second Test because of (a couple of poor) sessions, we played really bad cricket because of which we were on the receiving end,” he said.

Dhoni stressed that India should be proud of its performances at home, and defended the preparation of spinner-friendly wickets. “We should be proud of our heritage (while trying) to do better abroad. Foreign sides do not prepare turning tracks at home after away series losses against Indian spinners,” he said.

“If results are looked at carefully, it will be noticed that most international teams benefit from home advantage and struggle away from home,” said Dhoni. “These labels are reserved for teams from the sub-continent.”

Dhoni said that tour of New Zealand would be an ideal exposure trip for his young side as it prepares to defend the World Cup in just over a year’s time in the trans-Tasman nations.

“When I first went to New Zealand, the fielding position was very confusing. The shapes of the grounds are very unusual. We had to keep fine-leg very deep and from a wicket keeping angle it looked like it was square-leg. So it takes time to adjust.”

On Stuart Binny, who is a new addition to the squad, Dhoni said: “I think Stuart is someone who is interesting. He has got swing. At most international venues, the wickets are flat especially for the ODIs. That is the time we need to see how effective he can really be. Whether we can feature him as a third pacer is subject to how he can perform in the nets over there. At the moment, he is someone who can swing the ball, and also has the batting ability to bat down the order and score runs. He may not be someone who bowls at 135 kmph but if he can get the job done then it will be great,” he said.

Dhoni said he expects an exciting series. “According to the new rules, some of the matches could be high scoring. But it will depend on what kind of wicket we are playing the match. If it is a flat wicket, small ground, and if there is a good partnership, the batsmen bat well, then in that scenario you can see that there could be lot of high scoring matches,” he said. “It looks like an exciting series. Let’s hope for the best,” he said.

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