The Indian skipper declared that he is not averse to playing the extra seamer, preferably an all-rounder

M.S. Dhoni emphasised that the Indian team has progressed through the tours of South Africa and New Zealand and is keen to do well against England.

“If you talk about the last two Test series that we played abroad — in South Africa and New Zealand — the performance of our team was really good. Though we lost both the series, we were definitely in a position to win the series.

“If I compare the first Test we played in South Africa and the last Test we played in New Zealand, there has been considerable improvement. It’s a right way of moving ahead,” Dhoni told the media here on Tuesday.

Bright chance for Binny

The Indian skipper declared that he is not averse to playing the extra seamer, preferably an all-rounder, and when specifically asked about Stuart Binny, Dhoni said: “Rather than coming to press conferences and talking about not having a pace bowling all-rounder, it’s better to try and utilise what we have.

“Stuart is someone who can bowl a bit and at the same time bat as well. If we can give him enough chances and groom him, then he can be someone who can do that job for us in the next six to eight months. He won’t be as good as someone like (Jacques) Kallis but he can be someone who can bowl that 10 overs and bat a bit.”

Dhoni also lauded Rahul Dravid’s role as a batting mentor in the prelude to the series and diplomatically stressed that the ‘England team has very good talent, so it’s just a matter of time before they come back into form.’

Cook backs himself

His counterpart Alastair Cook, who is facing the pressure on both fronts — self and team, backed himself and the squad. “Never felt that I have been hitting the ball badly this summer, haven’t been able to transform stay at wicket into runs. There is nobody keener than I to score the runs. I know I will score runs in the top order in this series.

“We all know we are judged from results which haven’t been good enough so we are criticised. If we turn it around, it will be good,” the England captain, who has failed to score a hundred over 24 innings, said.

Terming the pitch as ‘dry’ and the Indian team as ‘competitive’, Cook allayed fitness concerns about Matt Prior and said: “He had an issue with his thigh at yesterday’s (Monday) practice but today he has done everything we have asked him to do. We are 99 per cent certain he will be fine.”

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