England may be low on confidence after suffering morale-sapping series defeats against Sri Lanka, but India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni says playing a five-Test series against the hosts will be a new challenge with less-experienced players in the side.
“They know the home conditions better than us so it will be a tough battle. And a long battle, five Tests, five ODIs and one T20I. After a long time we are playing a five-Test series. So it will be something new for us,” Dhoni said.
England lost the Test series 0-1, the ODI series 2-3 and the lone Twenty to Sri Lanka, but Dhoni said that it would not prudent to rate England low due to their recent unfavourable results.
“Not really. It is never about what has happened in the past. You always assess the opposition on the basis of their team composition and England are still a fantastic side. It means that it will be a very competitive schedule for us,” he opined.
Dhoni also had kind words for his under-fire counterpart Alastair Cook, who is reeling in the aftermath of some very bad results, off-late compounded by his own poor form.
“You just have to see his record, how he performed when we were here last time. A bad patch of form is for every player but you need to back good players. When you score 100s or 200s, all critics come on your side. But the real test of character is when you are not doing well but you still have the support of your teammates, fans and media,” said Dhoni.
“Captaincy is a process. Whenever I go out to play, I am not out to prove that I am a good captain. It’s about doing the job you have been given. You also have to earn the respect of the players and not demand it.
“As a captain you need to help each player and it gets you that respect. What is also very important is that when you are not doing well, help maintain the dressing room atmosphere because that is very tough phase and doubts don’t help anyone.
At the end, it is about keeping things simple,” he added, sharing a leaf or two from his own book.