India has right mix for Champions Trophy: Dhoni
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday expressed confidence that despite recent controversies the Indian team will not be under any pressure going into the Champions Trophy.
Dhoni was barred by the Board of Control for Cricket in India from taking any questions on the IPL spot-fixing saga, but when asked about the mental state of his players going in to the upcoming 50-overs-a-side tournament in England and Wales, he replied: "As far as the Champions Trophy is considered, everything is looking good and there is nothing... don't think there is anything that will bother them.
"We will also have enough time in hand to set up before the first game and the three matches of group stages; there is enough time interval, there is enough time to adjust."
Image: MS Dhoni
'There is a responsibility on us'
Probed further whether there will be an extra sense of responsibility going into the tournament in view of the recent scandals, Dhoni said it is nothing new, insisting the team will give its best and encourage the next generation to take up the sport.
"As cricketers, we always have that extra sense of responsibility with us. As international cricketers we always have that extra responsibility. It is our job to bring people into the arena and encourage the youngsters who aspire to take up (cricket) as a livelihood and as professional cricketers. There is a responsibility on us and, hopefully, we can fulfill it to our potential," he said.
The ICC Champions Trophy, which will be played in the United Kingdom from June 6-23, features the world's top eight teams. This will be the seventh and the final edition of the tournament, after which it will be replaced by the ICC World Test Championship, from 2017.
India have never won the Champions Trophy. They were declared the joint-winners with Sri Lanka in 2002-03 after rain washed out the final.
Image: MS Dhoni
'It would be our last opportunity to win the title'
Dhoni views the tournament as an ideal opportunity to win the only trophy missing from Indian cricket's showcase.
"As you rightly said, we are the joint-winners of the Champions Trophy and have not won the trophy, so it is a good opportunity, and most likely it will be the last Champions Trophy.
"So it would be our last opportunity to win the title," he said.
Image: MS Dhoni
'Bhuvneshwar Kumar can really swing the ball'
The World champions have several new players in the line-up and their pace attack is also quite inexperienced. But they are hoping to capitalise on the seamer-friendly tracks in the UK.
"When it comes to this fast bowling line-up, you can see there are people who can exploit the conditions; you have someone like Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who can really swing the ball, and Umesh Yadav has got the pace and has been part of the side for sometime now.
"It is just that we will have to adjust to the new rules of five fielders being inside, what is the length they need to bowl, how quickly they adapt to the wicket, which areas to bowl.
"We have got the right mix; we have some who can bowl really fast and a couple who can swing the ball and use it in their favour," he said.
Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar
'Each and every member is looking fit'
When pointed out that India have always struggled in global tournaments like the World Cup or other big events when playing immediately after the IPL, Dhoni said he is hoping to buck the trend.
"We are hoping that with the kind of fitness level that is going around right now, each and every member is looking fit. The reason being that all of them have played good cricket in the IPL or before the IPL; so most of them are in very good touch," he said.
Dhoni also gave his full backing to the two new openers in the Indian team --- Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan --- who were picked on the basis of a good showing in the Test series against Australia earlier this year.
"Our two openers had done well at the Test level recently. I know it is a different challenge in the ODIs; you have to accelerate, but, at the same time, it is important that we have a good start on which we can capitalise on. As Duncan (Fletcher) rightly said, this is an opportunity for the youngsters.
Image: MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina
'Vijay has been very consistent'
Shikhar has been very consistent, Vijay has been very consistent, and they have been rewarded for that. Hoping, they capitalise and do well for us so that middle-order is not under pressure and can express themselves," he replied.
India kick-off their campaign against South Africa in Cardiff on June 6. But the most anticipated match of the tournament is the high-voltage clash against arch-rivals Pakistan in Birmingham on June 15.
The World champions also play two warm-up matches ahead of the tournament, against Sri Lanka on June 1, and against Australia on June 4.
Image: MS Dhoni and Murali Vijay