India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, coach Duncan Fletcher and manager Ranjib Biswal sat through a tense media briefing prior to the team’s departure for the Champions Trophy on Tuesday night. Cops in uniform were in attendance and questions about spot-fixing were not allowed.
Dhoni and Biswal stuck to the straight and narrow when queries not pertaining to the Champions Trophy were directed at them.
When asked if there was any specific instruction from the BCCI for the Indian team touring England for the tournament, the manager replied that guidelines were already in place for the squad to follow. The last time India won the tournament was in 2002 when it shared the trophy with Sri Lanka after the final was rained out. “I understand that the Champions Trophy is being held for the last time, so we will try to do well,” said Dhoni.
Asked about leading a side which has many young players who are new to the English conditions, he said: “A few places are up for grabs and I hope that the youngsters make use of the exposure by performing in unfamiliar conditions.”
About the bowling department, Dhoni said: “Bhuvneshwar Kumar can swing the bowl and will find the conditions useful.
“Umesh Yadav has the pace and since he has been part of the squad for a while, he is aware of his role.”
The Indian skipper hoped that the openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, would click and ease the burden on the middle-order.
Reminded of India’s miserable tour to England last time, the captain pointed out that the wet ball made it tough for the two spinners to grip the ball. “If you go by the results in the ODIs, it may appear that we performed badly, but it was not as bad as the results convey,” Dhoni said. Fletcher justified the presence of three spinners — Amit Mishra, R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — in English conditions, which normally aid the swing and seam bowlers. “Two spinners will be in the XI and in case of an injury, we have a back-up,” he said.
Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan, who were part of the World Cup-winning 2011 team, have not found a place in the squad, but in Dhoni, India has a leader who is keen on providing opportunities to the youngsters instead of worrying about the missing stalwarts.
India will take on South Africa on June 6, followed by games against West Indies (June 11) and Pakistan (June 15).
June 6: v South Africa; June 11: v West Indies; June 15: v Pakistan
This article has been edited for a factual error.