The India's tour of NZ commences with the first ODI at Napier on January 19, 2014 and ends on February 18 with the second Test at Wellington starting February 14. (Getty Images)
Contrary to the notion that India struggled for most part on their tour of South Africa, skipper MS Dhoni believes his team is a settled unit both in Tests as well as ODIs and has coped well with the transition phase that saw the country's batting nucleus walk into sunset.
India set off on the road to 2015 World Cup with the tour of South Africa. Other than IPL 7 at home, India will next be on full Test tours of New Zealand, England and Australia before defending their ODI title Down Under.
But before leaving the Indian shores for New Zealand, Dhoni explained in detail where Indian cricket stands while assuring that the team is in good hands after the departure of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the last two years.
"As of now, both our [ODI and Test] squads look quite settled, which is a good thing because it's very important to back individuals. If you talk about the batsmen, not all of them have played a lot of Test matches outside the subcontinent. So they will take some time," he said at the press conference before the team's departure for New Zealand.
"Quite a few people were speculating about how the batsmen will do or how the bowlers will do [in South Africa]. Now we know we have got a set of players who will do well irrespective of where we are playing and that is a big positive.
"But what we have seen is that almost all of them have played ODIs outside India and still they have performed really well, which gives you the confidence of saying that they have the ability to do well outside the subcontinent when it comes to dealing with pace and bounce," the skipper said.
Talking specifically about the batsmen, Dhoni said the team has men who can do well all round the world. "I think the batsmen did well in South Africa. They handled good fast bowling and at the same time they were quite positive. There were quite a few things that happened in South Africa that gives us the confidence of saying that we have the talent of doing well anywhere in the world," he said.
The skipper, speaking on the bowlers, said that it's good that all of them are available for selection now and competing for places, which was not the case a year back. "I think there's more competition when it comes to the bowling department. One year back, some of our leading fast bowlers had injuries. Back then, we didn't have too many options.
"But now with all of them becoming fit and being available for selection and doing well on the domestic circuit, they have enough competition amongst themselves, which is a healthy thing to have.
When asked on the areas to improve, Dhoni was quick to point at performance on dry tracks. "There's one particular condition we have to improve on, which is on wickets that are on the drier side and just have a bit of bounce on offer and not too much of seam movement. The reason being, most of our bowlers aren't those who hit the surface. Most of them are those who swing the ball and bowl slightly up to the batsman. At times we encounter wickets that are on the drier side and you have to bang in the ball to get bounce and pace," he explained.
The skipper also had a word of advice for the spinners while playing abroad. "The spinners will have to accept that when they travel abroad and when they're bowling on the first-day wicket, their role is slightly different. They need to have a bit more patience and not give them runs so that you are also building pressure from one end. They get late turn from the third or fourth days and that's the time they need to go in for the kill.
Hinting at the absence of a quality seam-bowling allrounder, Dhoni said the spinners will have to adapt that way on tracks that don't assist spin right away. "It's a bit tough on them but till the time we find a seaming allrounder, they'll have to bear that."