Dhoni philosophical about Zaheer absence

India

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has insisted India will cope without the services of veteran seamer Zaheer Khan during a tough Test series against England in July and August.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has insisted India will cope without the services of veteran seamer Zaheer Khan during a tough Test series against England in July and August.

Khan has not been included in a reasonably new-look 18-man squad due to a back injury sustained during the Indian Premier League earlier this year. Uncapped right-armers Ishwar Pandey, Pankaj Singh and Stuart Binny have since been called up.

"Zaheer is someone who reads the game really well and I always felt that left-arm fast bowlers really have the advantage. They can bring the ball back in and add variation of the ball going away from the batsmen,"said Dhoni.

"He is someone who loves to play games. The more games he plays, the better he gets. As far as missing Zaheer is concerned, I can't really say much because with the kind of experience he has, the fast bowling unit doesn't really have that kind of experience. Hopefully we won't miss him, but as I said, I can't really say anything."

India, too, won't have the experience of the stalwart Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman to rely on. The trio were part of the squad that toured the United Kingdom in 2011, but have since retired. Opening batsman Virender Sehwag, meanwhile, has been dropped.

"It will be very difficult to fill the shoes of Sehwag as an opener and Rahul at number three, Sachin coming in and then Laxman and Sourav Ganguly. I think we shouldn't compare, but think more about the current generation," added Dhoni.

"They have come in and are going to serve Indian cricket. It will be a big challenge for them. The good thing is they have had good exposure, playing a few games abroad and having played a lot at home. They have the talent. It's just that they have to get used to the conditions, apply themselves and give respect to the opposition and read the conditions."

The first Test will start at Trent Bridge on 9 July. Lord's, the Rose Bowl, Old Trafford and The Oval will host Tests two, three, four and five respectively. Five ODIs and a one-off Twenty20 International will follow.

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