India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday ruled out wholesale change in the playing XI and said the home team would go for the jugular in the inconsequential fifth and final one dayer against Sri Lanka here tomorrow.
Back in the side after serving a two-match ban for his team’s slow overrate in the second ODI in Nagpur, Dhoni and his men go into the match with an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
Dhoni said Sri Lanka should not expect any concession tomorrow as India would put their best foot forward.
“There would not be too much of experimentations with the side,” Dhoni told reporters after the team’s net session at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here.
“Of course one or two players might be changed but we will go into the match with a strong team. Yes, we have won the series but 4 -1 always looks better,” Dhoni said.
Refusing to disclose the playing XI, Dhoni said both S. Sreesanth and Ashok Dinda were available for the match, as was Sachin Tendulkar, who opted out of today’s practice.
Back in the saddle after missing the last two matches, Dhoni said the team looked in good rhythm.
“I think everything went perfect. We got the wickets when we needed them and had partnerships when we required. We did drop a few catches but fielding still looked better than the first two matches, intensity was there and I think overall everything went fine,” he said.
Dhoni also patted Virender Sehwag for doing an excellent job as the stand-in skipper and guiding India to victory the last two ODIs.
“I’m not going to give him marks. But he has done a great job, won both matches and we are now playing the last match without any pressure,” Dhoni said.
The star stumper-batsman said the team needed to lift its fielding standards and already he was seeing improvements.
“See, fielding is something that cannot improve overnight or in a week’s time. We have to work on our basics and then it would start improving, gradually. We dropped catches in the Twenty20 matches and in this series also. It’s important not to spill chances and I can already see slight improvements,” Dhoni said.
The skipper was particularly happy with the way youngsters like Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli had made their mark in the series.
“We never doubted their (Jadeja and Kohli’s) talents. It was just a matter of getting exposure and making the most of it. We always knew they would do well.” he said.
“In long series we are certain to miss some regular players. While we would miss them individually, it’s for the youngsters to come and perform to ensure that the team doesn’t miss anyone on the field,” Dhoni said.
“It was great to see them doing so well. They are the youngsters who lift the fielding standard. Their basics are correct and you have the luxury of fielding 4-5 brilliant fielders inside the circle. Even at death, it’s great to have such agile fielders manning the boundary,” Dhoni explained.
Looking back at the series, Dhoni reckoned India’s superior middle order made all the difference.
“For us, Sehwag and for them, (Tillakaratne) Dilshan - all depends on what kind of start they give to their team.
More often than not, it depended on whichever opener lasts long.
“But when both failed, it’s the middle order which mattered. Even when Sehwag got out, we scored 300-plus. Take the openers out and we have a better middle order,” Dhoni said.
Asked to sum up India’s ODI performance this year, Dhoni said he was happy even though it could have been better.
“It was a good year. Of course we did not do well in the Champions Trophy and the (home) series against Australia but we did well both at home and abroad. Individually also, we did well and I would say it was a good year overall,” he said.