Durban:India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday said that the spate of injuries to key players has provided the youngsters a perfect opportunity to prove their worth and stake claim in the squad.
Dhoni said that instead of putting themselves under pressure, the youngsters should use the opportunity to score runs and impress the selectors.
"It's a good opportunity for them. Rather than taking it as an extra pressure scenario it's always better to take it as an opportunity to score runs and give the selectors a lot more options. We tour a lot abroad, we go to England, we go to South Africa.
"If you score here you'll get a bit of priority over some of the others," Dhoni said on the eve of the five-match ODI series against South Africa starting tomorrow.
"It's a win-win situation for them, they will be under less pressure slightly, and it can work in our favour," he added.
Dhoni also has his eyes firmly trained on the World Cup, scheduled to be held from February 19 to April 2 in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, saying the team doesn't want to run the risk of injuries to key players going into the quadrennial extravaganza, even if it meant playing with a depleted team.
"It would have been good to feature the main XI. Since last February, as you are saying, we haven't played the full XI that may feature in the first game of the World Cup. But we are risking injury. We have to save quite a few players. We have a fair amount of niggles.
"We don't want to miss any of the key players just before the start of the World Cup. Most of them have missed the whole season. I don't mind them missing one more season as long as they are available right through the World Cup," the India skipper said.
India lived upto their number Test ranking by sharing honours with the hosts in the three-match Test series, and Dhoni said the secret to performing well in South Africa lies in adopting a cautious approach against the new ball.
"You have to respect the bowlers right from the very start. The white Kookaburra ball does a bit initially, which means if you see the new ball off, the ball comes on to the bat nicely and lets you play your strokes.
"Most of the grounds are not very big. If you compare, size-wise they may be the same size as most of the Indian grounds, but because of the nature of the wicket it seems like they are smaller," Dhoni said.
Reminded about the ODI series during the team's last tour to the Rainbow nation, in 2006, Dhoni said the current side is a completely different one.
"We did lose all the games. 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," he said.
"It's (the present series) an international series, and as every series is, it's important. The youngsters, the new guys in the ODI squad, will have a chance to play in these conditions, to face different challenges. Overall it's a good learning experience for all of us," Dhoni said of the present series.
Dhoni admitted that the toss will be crucial in the series opener at Kingsmead here.
"It's good to bat during the day time. Under lights the ball does a bit more compared to afternoon session. The toss becomes a bit crucial. But even after winning the toss you have to do the basics right," he said.
Asked if the team has any target on mind, Dhoni said, " We don't always have a score in mind. We try to get off to a good start, and then every ten to 15 overs, you have some kind of a target in mind. Then, between the 40th and 50th over, you have a target in mind. But at the start of a game we don't have anything in mind."