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Dhoni banks on experience

MSD feels Gambhir and Dravid will be important at the top order because of the seaming and testing conditions

Dhoni banks on experience - Cricket News
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is banking on the senior players.
The only time MS Dhoni's voice fluctuated was when the sound system at the press conference malfunctioned.

Right through the question-answer session ahead of the Indian team's departure for the ICC Champions Trophy, the Indian skipper remained almost monotonously calm.

He wasn't worried that the competition had no minnows, and every game was a virtual knock-out, nor did he seem too bothered by the fickle snakes-and-ladders game called the ICC rankings.

He wasn't too keen to flaunt the team's recent ODI record of winning six straight series, and preferred to speak of the bowling department's need to improve, and the flaws in their fielding.

Before flying off to South Africa, Dhoni stayed grounded, postponing any big talk for a worthy occasion.

"We expect tough competition in the ICC Champions Trophy. We are in a tough group so we can't afford any slip-ups. Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan will be missed but it is good that Gautam Gambhir is fit," he said.

The press conference had started with the media manager informing that Gambhir had passed the fitness test after he was ruled out of the tri-series in Sri Lanka with a groin injury.

Dhoni stressed the importance of Gambhir at the top of the order in South Africa, as this is the start of the season in South Africa and the pitches will be hard and bouncy.

With the new white ball expected to dart around, men with calm heads will be the need of the hour, be it batsmen or bowlers.

To that end, the top of the Indian line-up looks good, with Rahul Dravid at No 3 behind Sachin Tendulkar and Gambhir.

"Dravid is a batsman that you want at No 3. In this Indian team, we really depend on flair a lot. We have batsmen who are flashy and ready to take on the bowlers. So it is ideal to give them a platform from where they can launch their innings to post a big total," he said.

In the bowling department Dhoni expects Ashish Nehra to fill the Zaheer-sized void. The left-arm pacer, along with RP Singh and Ishant Sharma, will be the bowlers Dhoni looks at to give him early breakthroughs.

Interestingly, the team that flies out for the ICC Champions Trophy is mostly made of players who have enjoyed success in South Africa.

There are a few who played the 2003 World Cup final, and a number of players on the right side of 30 were around Dhoni when he lifted the first ICC World Twenty.

In tough conditions, it's the Class of 2003 - Tendulkar, Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Nehra and Harbhajan Singh - that will need to put their hands up, not just for their experience, but also because they will be desperate for some happy memories from the Wanderers, after the forgettable final six years ago.

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