Napier:On the backfoot after twin Twenty20 losses to New Zealand, Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni says Sachin Tendulkar's return to the side has boosted the team's morale ahead of the one-day series.
"He is a great player. Not only from a batting or bowling point of view, if you see the amount of contribution he can make to the side from his experience is amazing. He changes the dressing room atmosphere completely," Dhoni said on Monday, ahead of the day-night ODI series opener.
Dhoni said he cannot quantify Tendulkar's influence on the team and the opponents.
"That is very difficult for me to answer. But when he was playing against us (Chennai Super Kings) for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, it played on your mind. The amount of ideas he has got apart from being a very talented and aggressive cricketer is phenomenal.
"And there are lots of things you have to be careful about him. You have to be careful about each and everything you do out on the field," said Dhoni.
India, the pre-series favourites, have been pulled back by defeats in the Twenty20 matches, which were given a miss by Tendulkar.
Dhoni refused to blame the setbacks on the conditions here and said it was the same for both the sides.
"I don't think they are the same as when we came here in 2003. It was assisting the seamers a lot then. This time they are pretty much favourable for both sides. Whoever plays better cricket will win. I don't think there is much to do with the conditions as we have seen in the last two games," he said.
"Of course, it is nice and warm. Hopefully, it will be the same tomorrow. That is what we are looking for. It is similar to India," he added.
Asked whether the visitors would get an edge if they beat the Kiwis in the series opener, Dhoni said the first win doesn't make much of difference in a five-match series.
"Every game is important. If you can win the first game you get a good start to the series and lots of things happen.
But I feel it doesn't make a huge difference, especially if it's a five-match series," said Dhoni.
Dhoni said India would not risk playing Ishant Sharma, who injured his right shoulder during the second Twenty20 match.
"We are thinking of giving him rest, so he can be available for the whole series rather than playing him if he's 70 per cent or 80 per cent fit. We will be cautious with him," said Dhoni.
Dhoni said India would seek to utilise Sehwag as a bowler.
"We have used most of our bowlers when it comes to the 50-over format. You have to be careful when it comes to the Twenty20 because one over can change the game.
"But we have seen that our part-timers have really contributed a lot not only in the one-dayers but also in the Test matches. So if we need him, he will bowl," he said.
On the threat posed by Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori's spin, Dhoni said: "Every bowler is important. However, you can be cautious against one bowler and target the other. We have done that with Ajantha Mendis, especially when we were not really picking him up."
"We will see how it goes because the conditions over here don't really help the spinners. But at the same time he is a class spinner and he can create problems on any surface," said Dhoni before joining his brood at the nets," he added.