We're focussed on winning series: Dhoni

MS Dhoni said his team was not giving much thought to the prospect of becoming world's number one Test side as it would only add to the pressure.

updated: December 02, 2009 15:33 IST
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Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday said his team was not giving much thought to the prospect of becoming world's number one Test side as it would only add to the pressure when they take on Sri Lanka in the third and final match starting here on Wednesday.

Leading 1-0 in the series, a win in the match starting on Wednesday would catapult India to the top of the ICC list but Dhoni said thinking about the rankings would not let the side focus on the task at hand.

"Winning the series is important but at the end of the day, if we do that, it will reflect in the ratings. We are not thinking about the ratings because we don't really want to play under pressure," Dhoni said on the eve of the third and final Test at the Brabourne Stadium here.

"You want to play your natural game, the whole team wants to play according to the game-plan. We don't really think about the ratings because if we know that if we keep winning the games, if we keep playing well, the ratings will take care of themselves," Dhoni said.

Even a drawn encounter would clinch the series for the hosts after their comprehensive victory by an innings in the second match at Kanpur. The high-scoring first Test at Ahmedabad was drawn.

Dhoni said the first session of play would be crucial as the seam bowlers are expected to get some help.

"The first session, one to one and a half hours, will be crucial. That's the time the seamers will get a bit of help. Again in the evening because this time of the year fast bowlers will, if they maintain the ball, be able to swing the ball for the least half an hour or so," he said.

Dhoni described the track at the Brabourne Stadium, hosting its first Test in 36 years, as a typical Mumbai wicket with a bit of bounce for the speedsters initially before it starts helping the slow bowlers.

"It looks like a normal Mumbai track, it's the same soil. There will be better bounce for the faster bowlers and as the game progresses you will see spinners coming into action. You will see a bit of turn with bounce. That's what spinners like. Overall it looks a good track," he said.

Dhoni made it clear that Murali Vijay would open the innings with Virender Sehwag.

"Yes (he will open). That's the only option we have right now," he said, hoping the Tamil Nadu opener, who has come into the reckoning due to the absence of the in-form Gautam Gambhir, will give the side a good start.

"The last time he played, he did well for us. Whatever domestic games he has played, there also Vijay has scored. So hope he gets off to a good start and gives us a good start at the same time," Dhoni said.

Dhoni said Gambhir's decision to opt out to attend his sister's wedding, was a personal choice. The left-handed opener will be missing the the deciding match after scoring hundreds in the first two Tests.

"It's up to an individual if he feels it is important because it's a very individual thing. If he feels he has to go, then he needs to go. It's not what people feel about it, it's what he thinks is important right now," he said.

He brushed aside concerns about the finger injury sustained by S Sreesanth in today's practice session and also praised the Kerala swing bowler's fine effort in the second Test which he played after 19 months in the wilderness.

"He hurt his right hand little finger in practice, but its nothing serious. He will play," the Indian skipper said.

"He did very well in Kanpur. He bowled good lines, bowled in a very controlled manner. The change (Sreesanth for the out-of-form Ishant Sharma) really worked for us," Dhoni said.

"I don't think it was a track where the seamers were getting too much of assistance. There was not much bounce, a bit of reverse swing but the edges were not carrying to the slip. The only option was to get a batsman bowled or LBW," he added.

Dhoni expressed satisfaction over his bowlers' display in the two Tests.

"I am quite happy with the performance of the bowlers as far as the Test series is concerned. On the Ahmedabad wicket, there was no way you could take 20 wickets on that kind of a track. I don't think we should be blaming the bowlers at all," the wicket keeper batsman said.

"Even the Kanpur Test match, it never looked like a wicket where the game would get over with more than a day and a half to go. I think the bowlers did a good job in Kanpur, the seamers and the spinners", he said.

On including three pacers, Dhoni said all options had to be weighed before taking a final decision.

"If you see the past record, Tests and one-dayers or domestic games, usually the spinners come into action. Especially in India, on the fourth and fifth days, the game changes very quickly.

"But at the same time, you have to weigh the possibility of playing three seamers and if you can get the top-four batsmen out very quickly, you will have the upper hand. So you have to weigh everything.

He, however, ruled out using Sachin Tendulkar as a regular extra seamer.

"That will be a bit tough right now but if it's needed, if it is doing too much, we can get a few overs out of him but not much," he explained.

Dhoni said it would be wrong to underestimate struggling Sri Lanka spin ace Muttiah Muralitharan who has not tasted much success on this tour.

"I think he has not got much assistance from the wicket. The batsmen also, they have played him well. They have been playing him for a long time. If you see our middle order and even the openers, they have faced Murali quite a few times.

"If you see the schedule, every year either we go there or they come here. They have seen more of Murali, they know what his strength is and accordingly, they plan their innings. He need to works hard to get those wickets," he said.

"It's not that he has lost anything, he is still a great bowler. On this track, you will see spinners coming into action, so he is always a dangerous candidate to deal with," he added.

The home team captain expects Sri Lanka to bounce back from the hiding they received at Kanpur.

"They are a good side and expected to bounce back. At the international level, it doesn't matter if you have lost the last game or it is a draw or you have won. Every game, you have to start from scratch," he said.

Dhoni said it would be extra hard work for the speedsters of both the teams because of the incline from their long run-up to the bowler's end stumps at the venue.

"It's a proper slope, almost like a step that you have to take before you bowl. It will be tough because it is quite inclined," he added.