Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday conceded that his side’s fielding standard needs to improve considerably for it to do well at the Champions Trophy starting here from September 22.
“Our fielding standards, compared to the ones we had in Australia in 2007, is now very different. A lot of it has to do because of different conditions in which cricketers come up,” Dhoni said in a pre-tournament press conference.
“I, for instance, come from a place where throwing and diving could really hurt. Newer generation of cricketers are much better in sliding and throwing themselves in the field.
National Cricket Academy and all those camps have also helped,” he added.
Dhoni said the Indians, who take on New Zealand in their only warm-up game tomorrow, cannot be expected to become the world’s best side in matter of days.
“It’s not like we can be world beaters in seven days. We accept that. But if we can improve our standards by 10 to 15 per cent, if the fielders can push their effort by 20 per cent it would be good. That’s realistic,” he said.
Indians would be hurling themselves in practice sessions over the first five days of the next week before they meet Pakistan in a hugely anticipated tournament opener at Centurion on September 26.
We want to be as well prepared as we can be,” said Coach Gary Kirsten.
Asked about the younger Indian batsmen’s susceptibility to short-pitched bowling, Kirsten said they are adapting gradually.
“Our batsmen have been scoring runs against all fast bowlers in all kind of conditions. There was only one match (against the West Indies in Twenty20 World Cup) where we were not on top of our game and all this talk started,” he said.
The return of Rahul Dravid is seen as crucial for the team and Kirsten said the veteran right-hander is an asset. “The return of Dravid will help. He is a good player of quicker bowling. Conditions will be quicker here and he will be a great asset to us,” added Dhoni.
The Indians, for a brief while, were the best ODI side in the world but Dhoni doesn’t see it as one of the goals for his side. “I don’t care about rankings. I don’t think any cricketer who comes on the field cares about rankings,” he said.
Dhoni also dismissed suggestions that One-day cricket was losing its appeal after the advent of Twenty20 cricket. “This question is here to stay. Personally I love one-day cricket. It’s interesting and demands a lot of flexibility—both in terms of technique and patience. You need to pace your innings,” he added.