Opportunity to test bench strength
India will be without many key players in the tri-series due to injuries but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni says it's a blessing in disguise as it presents them with an opportunity to test bench strength ahead of the 2011 World Cup.
India will miss the services of key players such as Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh and with Ishant Sharma joining the list of injured players, Dhoni has plenty on his plate.
But captain cool is not worried, as India takes on New Zealand in opening match of the tri-series.
"You can call it a blessing in disguise that we have lost quite a few players in the last few series because of injuries which gives us a chance to look at quite a few newcomers or our bench strength.
"We are just hoping that we will play with our best 15 members when it comes to the World Cup but till then, we are getting some time to have a look at our bench strength," Dhoni said.
Image: MS Dhoni with Gary Kirsten
Team management is careful about injuries
Dhoni said the team management is careful about the injuries, keeping in mind the World Cup and does every bit to ensure that the players do not aggravate their problems.
"Whatever series we are playing, we are expected to win them and do well. So it gets very difficult to give players some rest. But at the same time, what we have done is if we find that some player is having some kind of a niggle or problem which can really convert into a major injury, then we give them some rest. Like Harbhajan and Gautam here.
"We are just trying to balance it out in a way that we don't have injuries right in front of the World Cup," he said.
The India captain admitted that his players are a tired lot after the drawn three-Test series against Sri Lanka.
"Most of the games, we fielded for 120-130 overs. We might have won the last Test but at the end of the day, you are quite tired.
"As far as the gap in between the matches is concerned, that is mainly because of the reserve day. With the reserve day, I can't really complain, that's the schedule. We will take some time off, maybe a couple of days completely away from cricket, and then get back into the groove," he added.
Image: Ms Dhoni
'It's always good to have fresh legs'
Dhoni said he sees no problem in leading a young side, which is low on experience as compared to the Test team.
"Among the older or senior guys, all of a sudden I find myself being one of them along with Viru, Yuvraj and Ashish Nehra. I don't think it's much difficult, you just have to channelise the efforts more compared to the Test side where you have a lot of experienced players.
"It's always good to have fresh legs in the side who can field really well, give more than 100 per cent whenever needed. It will be exciting, hopefully it will be good too," he added.
Dhoni also defended playing too much cricket against Sri Lanka, saying there is hardly any controversy when the two countries play.
"For the last few years, if you see, we have been playing each other quite consistently which means we know each other quite well when it comes to ones strengths and weaknesses. It's always good to play against Sri Lanka because most of the time, it is controversy-free," he said.
Image: MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina
Ideal preparation for World Cup
New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor on the other hand feels that the tri-series would earn Black Caps some valuable experience of playing in sub-continent conditions before the 2011 World Cup.
"Definitely, ideal preparation. Obviously, coming from New Zealand, the pitches are going to play differently but the conditions that we have here and in India and in Bangladesh will be similar to what we are going to experience in the World Cup," Taylor said.
"So this experience is going to be valuable for the team and for the youngsters leading in to the selection for the World Cup," he added.
Image: Ross Taylor, Kumar Sangakkara and MS Dhoni
Good chance for youngster
Taylor, asked to lead the side in absence of Daniel Vettori, feels the series will also be a good chance for the players to prove their worth in sub-continent conditions and impress the selectors.
"I think it's good, it gives some other players an opportunity and some youngsters the chance to play in the sub-continent as well. If we can have a squad of 20-odd to pick from and push each other, I think it will augur well for the upcoming months and for the World Cup," he said.
Having played a few practice games, Taylor said his team is in a good shape for the series.
"Every time you play cricket, you obviously play to win. We have come here to win, we won warm-up games and probably have got an edge over them in playing the competition.
"We know it's going to be tough but we are looking forward to challenge. Hopefully, we can put some performances on the board and obviously start with a win," he said.
Talking about the players, Taylor specifically mentioned about Andy McKay and Kane Williamson, who he said will make his debut.
"All exciting players. Andy McKay is our fastest bowler in the squad and after losing Shane Bond through retirement, he is going to become a big part of our side and our make-up.
"BJ Watling and Kane Williamson are two young and exciting players. I think they have been playing and developing over the last couple of weeks and the games have been exciting.
"Kane has been a player that has been earmarked to play for New Zealand for a long time. He's only just turned 20, he's exciting raw talent and he is a pretty level-headed guy," he added.
Image: Ross Taylor