Dhoni not taking New Zealand lightly

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

AHMEDABAD - Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is looking forward to working with a fully-fit side in the first of the three-match Test series against New Zealand, beginning here Thursday, and said India cannot afford to take their opponents lightly despite their dismal show in Bangladesh.

India will be bolstered by the return of Gautam Gambhir, who missed the second and third Tests against Australia due to a dodgy knee.

“We have an important series coming up. So, it is good to have the main players back,” Dhoni said Wednesday.

“After this, we go to South Africa and then we have the World Cup. If you see the last few series we have played, more often than not we have missed key players.”

Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay will make way for Laxman and Gambhir in the playing eleven but Dhoni said it should not demotivate the youngeters.

“Vijay and Pujara were replacing Laxman and Gambhir. When you have players like them coming back, they find a place in the playing XI. But I do not think it is demotivating. Vijay has always done well for India. And Pujara batted really well in the second innings in the last Test against Australia,” Dhoni said.

New Zealand are fresh from a 0-4 defeat at the hands of minnows Bangladesh in the One-day series and have only a handful of experienced players in their ranks. The Black Caps have also lost eight of their last 15 Tests.

Dhoni, however, is not taking them lightly.

“It will be a big mistake to take any side lightly,” Dhoni said. “New Zealand have got players who have performed everywhere they have played. Whatever happened in Bangladesh, we are not really thinking about that.”

India have strengthened their hold on the No.1 Test ranking and have not lost a series since the away-series against Sri Lanka in 2008. Dhoni lauded the consistent performance of the team in the last few years.

“Over the last couple of years, we have done well abroad too,” said Dhoni.

“The expectation level keeps on increasing for the Indian cricket team. It never comes down. Once you achieve a certain level, you are expected to maintain that or do better as a team. I think Indian cricketers have done well to manage the expectations and the extra pressure.”

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