x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dhoni expects injury-hit India squad to be tested

MS Dhoni, the India captain, plan to use the limited-overs series with South Africa to assess fringe players who may be needed at the World Cup next month.

DURBAN // MS Dhoni, the India captain, plan to use the limited-overs series with South Africa to assess fringe players who may be needed at the World Cup next month.

Co-hosts India have been installed as World Cup favourites and Dhoni said it was vital that senior injured players such as Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Praveen Kumar were given the chance to recover. Praveen, the seam bowler, was been forced to return home with an elbow injury and his place in the squad has been taken by Ishant Sharma.

"With the World Cup also in place, we didn't want to risk him [Praveen]," Dhoni said.

"He has been a very good bowler, irrespective of the conditions, whether we are playing in India or abroad, he has done well for us."

One consolation for Dhoni is Sachin Tendulkar, who has scored 1,422 one-day runs in South Africa, returns to the starting XI but Dhoni said he wants youngsters to shine.

"We want some of our younger players to play in this series so that we can see how best to utilise them," said Dhoni. "We will have the World Cup in mind when making our selections but in general we will pick our best available side.

"It would have been good to feature the main XI during the series against South Africa but we don't want to risk aggravating injuries. A number of our players are carrying niggles and they are too important to risk before a World Cup."

India have a miserable ODI record in South Africa, losing 16 and winning only three matches against the Proteas.

"We did lose all the games [the last time India played a bilateral one-day series in South Africa]," MS Dhoni said. "There's only one way to go - you can only go up from there. But as I say it's not about the past. The Test series was very different from 2006, and as we always say, we have a completely different side. We have quite a few youngsters who are into the grooming phase, which means at the end of the day, it's a win-win situation for Indian cricket."