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'England still tough side despite losing series to Lanka'

June 26, 2014 07:36 IST

'England still tough side despite losing series to Lanka'

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England might be a bit low in confidence after slumping to their first Test series loss to Sri Lanka on home soil but Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that that his visiting side ill-affords to take them lightly in the upcoming five-match Test series.

Addressing a press conference on the eve of his side's three-day warm-up game starting on Thursday, Dhoni said England are still a tough side to beat.

"What you assess is how good a side the opposition is and I still think England are a fantastic side. Which means it will be a tough competition for us and they know the home conditions better than us," Dhoni said at his first press conference after arriving in England.

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Image: MS Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher during practice session
Photographs: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

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'Playing five Test matches is something that's entirely new for us'

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Asked if it was a good time to play England who suffered 0-1 series loss against visiting Sri Lanka, Dhoni said, "No, not really."

Unlike in 2011 when India only played one tour match before entering the Test series, this time they are playing two and arrived nearly three weeks before the first Test.

The extra time, according to Dhoni, provided the inexperienced players to get acclimatised to the conditions.

"It's a long series, five Test matches followed by five ODIs and one T20. Playing a series with five Test matches is something that's entirely new for us. But overall I think it will be really good," Dhoni said.

India failed to register a single win in their disastrous last tour in 2011, losing the Test series 0-4, the five-match ODI series 0-3 and also the lone T20 International.

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Image: MS Dhoni during a warm-up session in Leeds
Photographs: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

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Getting acclimatised

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Of the current 18-member Indian squad only Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma have played a Test match in England.

But Dhoni said that some of them have played some form of cricket in England and that experience may help them.

"It's always good to have players who have played in the scenario before. As I've said it's a team that doesn't have too many players that have played in England," Dhoni said.

"The good thing is a lot of them have played some kind of cricket in England. There are quite a few who were part of the Champions Trophy. There are quite a few who have played in England in other leagues, not just the counties, under-age cricket, maybe the Under-19s.

"All that really helps but it will be important for those players who have not played too many games to get used to the conditions really quickly. We're here 15 to 20 days before the first Test so that will obviously help."

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Image: Indian players during a warm-up session
Photographs: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

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New-look side might inspire to play exciting cricket

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India coach Duncan Fletcher said that the inexperience of the new-look side might inspire the visiting team to play "exciting" cricket across the five-Test series beginning in Nottingham from July 9.

Fletcher said the unpredictability was one of the strengths of this Indian side whose defining characteristic is youth.

"Without making excuses it is a very, very inexperienced side: If you look at how many Tests have our opening batters played, how many Tests has our No. 3 has played, how many Tests have our bowlers bowled," Fletcher said.

"But it's nice that sometimes because being unpredictable they will play some exciting cricket. There are some very, very exciting cricketers in this group who would go on to be very, very good cricketers for India. They might fire from this series and there will be some very, very good cricket played."

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Image: Duncan Fletcher speaks to his players during a practice session
Photographs: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

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Need to attack England's senior batsmen

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Before departing India, Fletcher had said that it was important to attack England captain Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, England's two senior batsmen.

Fletcher stressed that India were more keen on wining than on reflecting on what had happened in the past.

"Reversing trends is not that important. What is important is that you go out trying to win the series. That's what our objective is - to come here and win the series," he said.


Image: Alastair Cook
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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