Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Getting used to pace and bounce a big challenge: Dhoni

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First ODI vs Proteas today

Johannesburg: India skipper MS Dhoni said, on Wednesday, that “getting used to the pace and bounce” in South African conditions will be the biggest challenge for his young team, who are here to play three ODIs and two Tests.

“One of the big challenges is to get used to the pace and bounce. If you are just new to the international circuit, then it becomes more of a challenge. The reason being, in India even on the best of wickets you don’t get the same pace, or even bowlers who can generate similar pace and bounce.

“So it makes slightly more difficult for the players who have just made their debut in the international arena,” Dhoni told reporters at the pre-match press conference.

He, though, also believed that there are some players who have had international experience.

“But at the same time there are few players (in the side) who have been playing for the last few seasons and have had a decent outing all over the world. When you come to the same venue, you know how the situation or condition will be, and it gives an edge to adapt quickly. At the end of the day experience always counts.”

Young they may be, but this Indian lot is also very enthusiastic about their cricket. And now, they will be raring to take on the challenge of facing against some of the best fast bowlers in world cricket.

The battle then essentially will be between Indian batsmen and South Africa bowlers, and how they cope up with the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander will be intriguing to say the least.

“Strategies have always been formed against batsmen. Batsmen form their own strategies to counter bowlers’ plans. The real challenge is how you are able to change your game and adapt as per different conditions. More important than strategies is who scores more runs and takes more wickets,” said Dhoni.

That, again, brings up the topic of the Indian bowling, the same deemed ‘weak’ by his counterpart.

“It is important how you exploit conditions,” he replied, when pointed out.

“It’s not important if you have the best bowlers. I think we have done pretty well. There have been ups and downs. We have really struggled when there is dew on the field or the wickets are really flat surfaces. That’s an area where our bowlers haven’t done outstandingly well,” Dhoni said.

Meanwhile, de Villiers didn’t make any bones about the fact that the hosts are indeed “under pressure” going into the first match.

“We are under pressure, playing in our own country and that is a bit unusual for us,” de Villiers said during the pre-match media conference.

While admitting that losing the ODI series against Pakistan 1-2 has dented their confidence, the South African skipper made it a point to state that they are certainly not underdogs as being dubbed in some quarters.

“We have just lost a series at home, so the confidence is not very high. Some of the knowledgeable people will say that we are underdogs. But there is no way we will stand back and allow that to happen. There is no chance we will accept that. At home we cannot afford to be called the underdogs,” De Villiers tried putting up a brave front.

The skipper expects his team to perform to their full potential at home against a team that’s not known to do well in these conditions where there is a lot of pace and bounce on offer.

“If we play to our full potential, no one can stop us here, especially in South African conditions.

“That’s the kind of mindset I want the guys to go in with for tomorrow’s game. We need to show the right attitude, good body language.

Zaheer, Pujara depart

Meanwhile, Senior India pace bowler Zaheer Khan and batsman Cheteshwar Pujara India for South Africa along with three other players well ahead of the two-Test series against the hosts.

Zaheer, Pujara, opener Murali Vijay, reserve wicketkeeper Wridhiman Saha and leg-spinner Amit Mishra could not go with the ODI squad as planned due to logistical problems with their visas, according to Cricket Board secretary Sanjay Patel. (PTI)

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