There can be no substitute for good planning. The 3-2 ODI series win against England will give Mahendra Singh Dhoni the mental comfort that he remains India's best man to lead in the 2015 World Cup Down Under, until and unless the script goes horribly wrong for Captain Cool!
Dhoni is definitely looking ahead. By the end of this year, he wants a pool that can be groomed for 2015 World cup. Considering India's packed cricket programme and the penchant for T20 cricket, a bigger pool will not only offer a wider view of the talent at hand but keep players fresher and fitter with a calculated rotation policy.
"It's a long long way to go and you never know what comes up. There is a pool of players who are presently playing one-day cricket and I hope that by the year end things would be clear. We would like to add more players to the list and a larger pool will be nice," said Dhoni in Dharamsala on Sunday.
Dhoni has already indicated that he is not scared of experimenting. Rohit Sharma's promotion as an opener in the Mohali one-dayer turned out to be a masterstroke. And Suresh Raina is poised for a bigger role after emerging India's leading scorer in the just-concluded England series.
For the statistically minded, Raina completed his 4,000 runs in ODIs - 4068 at an average of 36.98 in 159 games.Â He is the 13th Indian player to accomplish the feat. Raina took his run-aggregate to 277 at an average of 92.33 in five matches - the highest by any batsman in the just concluded series. He was the only batsman to hit four fifties in the series! (Related read: Gavaskar says Raina can bat up the order)
"If the moves had backfired then I would have been blamed but as a captain I have to try out things and give chances to players who can play in the longer run," Dhoni explained, only suggesting that the BCCI has given him the bandwidth to prepare for the future. Â
India's biggest worry has been the lack of quality all-rounders. Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and even a Bhuvneshwar Kumar have showed the ability to fill this position, but Dhoni clearly favours a fast-bowling all-rounder.
"Jadeja is a kind of player who can be groomed. The more exposure he gets the better he will be. I hope a fit Irfan Pathan can take the fast-bowling all-rounder's role while Jadeja takes up the spin-bowling all-rounder's mantle.Â At 7 and 8 both players are crucial to our plans and the team balance," explained Dhoni.
Dhoni's obsession for younger and fitter players doesn't mean he is compromising on experience. While Virender Sehwag's presence in the 2015 World Cup is anybody's guess, Dhoni is surely backing the hot-and-cold Gautam Gambhir.
"Gambhir has been going through a lean patch but he is an experienced player. I believe he has batted a bit better in the last few games. Unlike some of the earlier matches, he didn't look tentative and was a lot more decisive about stroke-making," Dhoni said.
"I believe he is improving and don't forget he is an amazing player of spin bowling. Ideally, we want him to bat till the 35th-40th over," said Dhoni defending the Delhi left-hander, who has now scored only 156 runs in his last eight ODIs.