Chennai:Injured opener Virender Sehwag would be missed, India's cricket coach Gary Kirsten conceded on Wednesday but said the side has the depth to cope with the huge loss as it aims for the number one ODI team tag in the tri-series in Sri Lanka.
"Obviously missing players like Sehwag is huge. He is a high quality player and any team would love to have him in their mix. We have got a lot of depth in our cricket at the moment," Kirsten told reporters in a pre-departure press conference here.
The Indians left for the island nation today to play in the series that has New Zealand as the third team. The coach said the team can draw inspiration from its past record in Sri Lanka to make a clean-sweep, which would catapult it to the top of the ICC one-day rankings.
"We have done well in Sri Lanka in January this year. We won the series 4-1. We are familiar with the conditions there. But we know we are playing against two very good cricket teams," he said.
"We have been performing well and we need to maintain our performance. We know that every day and against every team, we have got to be lot better and make sure that we are always on top," he said .
"We go to Sri Lanka with confidence. We certainly do not look at the result of the past but think ahead", he said.
Asked who would be given the opening slot with Gautam Gambhir, Kirsten said the it would be decided once the team reaches Sri Lanka.
"We are not sure as to what the combination is going to be in Sri Lanka. We will decide on the match day," he said.
The South African was excited about middle-order mainstay Rahul Dravid's comeback and said the team would benefit from his vast experience.
"It is good to have him in the team. With that sort of experience, he is always going to help the team. It is wonderful to have him back in the squad," he said.
Kirsten said winning the toss would be crucial on Sri Lankan pitches which are known to be harsh on teams batting second.
"Winning the toss is quite important. But if you are going to be a world class team and a champion side at that, you need to win from any situation or condition. We are not going to look at that as an excuse," he said.
On whether the players would be rotated during the series, Kirsten said younger players are likely to get exposure.
"We have tremendous depth in our team. Some of the younger players have proven their worth and are capable of cementing their places in the team. We will continue with that and wherever possible we need to give opportunity to them to play.
"It is important to give them as much exposure as possible especially leading up to World Cup. We will continue to do that but obviously the most important thing is that we need to win more games of cricket," Kirsten said.
The Indian team got a six-week break before this series and Kirsten said having the Corporate Trophy, where most of the top players competed, just a few days before the series has ensured that the players won't turn up rusty in Sri Lanka.
"Obviously, it was good to have had the Corporate Cup now. It is important to play some matches after a six-week break and it is important for the players to get strong again.
We worked hard in the camp to make sure that the players are in good condition for another eight months.
"I am very happy and excited about what I have seen of them. Corporate Cup was important for many players to get some game. I think that the way the tournament is scheduled a few weeks before a very big tournament is good. Some players were a bit rusty but they had some games in the Corporate Cup," he said.
New Zealand is being seen as the weakest side in the tournament but Kirsten said the Kiwis are competitive with comeback-man Shane Bond being a huge factor.
"It is a very good cricket team. They have done well in one-day cricket. They have some powerful hitters in the bottom line and fairly stable. That is what you want in international cricket and New Zealand is a competitive team.
"Shane Bond is a great asset to the New Zealand team. He has not played cricket for a while but he is a great asset. Anyone, who bowls at that pace, can be a factor," Kitsten pointed out.
On whether the team is feeling the pressure of expectations due to the improving international results, Kirsten said the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led outfit can cope with it.
"When you become one of the best teams in the world there is pressure involved and there is expectancy around that. If you are going to remain as the best and going to be there for a long time, you need to handle that expectancy well in that pressure. I think we are comfortable being in that position," he said.
Kirsten lauded the team's batting performance in the season so far and said the middle-order has become especially strong.
"One exciting thing about the Indian cricket team is that we have great batting line up. We have exceptionally talented players and some very experienced players as well. I guess, it is only to work out what is the best combination that could be given on any given day.
"But, we are flexible in the middle order. We would like to mix it up little bit there. Try few different combinations. I feel that is the best way to do it. We would like to remain flexible", Kirsten said.
Asked about the team's targets for the season ahead, Kirsten said becoming number one is one of the top aims.
"We have set our targets as to what we have to achieve in the next eight months. Certainly, one of them is to become the best team in the World. We are heading that way and we are very excited on the way that we have gone about our business to get to that position," he said.
"We know that if we continue with as hard as we do in terms of our training and how we set our sights for games, we have the best chances of reaching there. We continue with that quest to be the best in the world," he added.