Melbourne, Jan 17 (IANS) Aiming to boost their World Cup preparations, India start their One-Day International tri-series campaign against hosts Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here Sunday.
More than the result, the tri-series which also involves England, offers the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team the chance to try out different combinations as well as settle down as a unit.
Playing in Australia just prior to the World Cup would give the reigning champions some much-needed time to acclimatise to the conditions.
“In this series the most important thing for us will be to get the combination right for the World Cup,” Dhoni said ahead of their first match.
“At the same time we will ensure that we don’t push the players who have minor niggles so they don’t end up being major injuries. We will give them the extra time because we want every player to be at least 80 to 90 percent fit going into a game.”
Dhoni also wants his pacers to practice their yorkers for the limited overs challenge.
“The execution of yorkers and bouncers becomes very crucial and that’s what we have been working on in the last few days. The bowlers are doing pretty well with the yorkers and if they can replicate in the match, we will be very happy with it,” Dhoni said.
Having lost the Test series 0-2 which also saw skipper Dhoni’s retirement from the longest version of the game, India will also look to receive some much-needed confidence. However, the team has been doing well in the ODIs even in foreign conditions and it will hope to continue the trend.
India’s record in the ICC tournaments in the last four years has been remarkable. They won the Champions Trophy in England in 2013 and were runners-up in last the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
While Dhoni is quietly confident of his team’s ability to win big, he is not getting carried away.
“We have done well in the last two ICC tournaments and both of them were away, in Sri Lanka and England,” he said.
“But the conditions in Australia and New Zealand are quite different. You also have to keep in mind the form of the players and the little niggles that some of them are carrying. But yes, we will take a lot of confidence out of our last few performances in the ICC tournaments.”
In the recently-concluded Test series, only Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane managed to enhance their reputations as batsmen and India will continue to rely on the duo along with ODI talisman Dhoni.
Pressure will be high on the likes of bungling batsmen Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and the under-pressure bowlers.
Pacer Ishant Sharma (left knee) and left-handed all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (left shoulder) have been ruled out of the opening game.
“There are quite a few players with a bit of niggles here and there and we are monitoring their progress. In tomorrow’s game, Ishant and Jadeja are not available for selection because we are managing their workload.”
Pacers Mohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni will also look to impress the team management in the limited opportunities they will get here.
Fresh from a Test series victory, notable for simmering tensions that occasionally boiled over into heated on-field exchanges, Australia will again look to gain a psychological advantage ahead of next month’s World Cup.
Australia Friday produced a clinical performance to get the better of traditional rivals England by three wickets.