Dhoni, Kirsten confident of doing well in New Zealand

It would require immaculate planning and perfect execution if the team is to win its first Test series in New Zealand in 40 years, MS Dhoni said.

updated: February 20, 2009 17:17 IST
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It would require immaculate planning and perfect execution if the team were to win its first Test series in New Zealand in 40 years, Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Wednesday.

"It's going to be a tough tour, but every place has its challenges. Foreign players come here and struggle against spin and bounce. We would focus on planning well and in executing those plans. The results will follow," said the wicketkeeper-batsman at a pre-departure media conference.

Coach Gary Kirsten too expressed confidence in the team's ability to do well in conditions that are vastly different to what the players are used to at home.

"We have a very balanced team -- in batting, pace and spin bowling. We are capable of playing in any condition. Conditions will be vastly different and the weather would be cold with a bit of rain. But we have the players to overcome these," Kirsten said.

India have not won a Test series in New Zealand since their first and only triumph, by a 3-1 margin under Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi in 1967-68. They commence the 47-day tour with two Twenty20 Internationals which are to be followed by five ODIs and the three-Test series.

Kirsten was not worried about the lack of any practice games ahead of the Twenty20 opener on February 26 as he said the team had four days to practice before getting into the contest. Kirsten said the team needed to wait till they reach New Zealand and read the wicket and conditions.

"I have experienced two different conditions in New Zealand. When the Indian team went there the ball was seaming around. But when the West Indies played recently the wickets were flat. We need to wait and see", the former South African opener said.

He said the strength of the Indian team lay in the fact that there were players who were able to play in all conditions.

"We can play in any conditions, but we need to be wary of New Zealand at home. They are difficult to beat at home," Kirsten said.

Dhoni did not read too much into New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori's comments that the Kiwis were scared of his as well as Virender Sehwag's striking prowess with the bat on the small grounds there.

"I don't worry about what others say. We have players who can clear the rope in all grounds in the world. It's not only me or Sehwag or Yuvraj Singh or Gautam Gambhir. The New Zealanders need to worry about the entire team", he said

Dhoni said the team was not unduly worried about the number one tag and just wanted to maintain their consistency. "As a team, we are not focussing on being number one. If we play consistently well the rankings will take care of themselves", he said.

India are currently ranked third in both Tests and ODIs.

Dhoni refused to compare the coaching methods adopted by Kirsten as compared to some others he had experienced in his career.

"I don't believe in comparisons. Gary is a great guy who does not put any pressure on the players. He also is a guy who does not believe in changing a player's natural game. He's also a guy not into publicity. He helps players to adapt well which is the most important thing at the international level", Dhoni said.

Dhoni was also looking forward to getting inputs from teammates who have experienced conditions in New Zealand during the long flight.

"It is not just about talking to players who have been there. Ours is an open team, everybody is allowed to speak. We will take inputs from everyone and take what is best for the team." About the batting team's Power Plays, the Indian skipper felt that his team had the batsmen and bowlers to take advantage of it in the ODIs.

"We have the batsmen to take advantage of the good start provided by Sehwag and Gambhir. If we do not get the start too we have middle order batsmen to utilise them well. The same is the case with our bowlers when their batsmen opt for the Power Play", he said.

Dhoni also welcomed the return of off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who missed the short tour to Sri Lanka recently because of a hamstring injury, to the side.

"Harbhajan has been our number one spinner in ODIs and Twenty20 for some time now. He's not only a fine bowler but also a good fielder and his batting lower in the order at number eight brings stability to the team", he said.