India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has rubbished claims that Friday’s one-off Twenty20 against South Africa is nothing more than an inconvenience.
India arrived in Johannesburg yesterday after a nine-hour journey from Mumbai for the match, organised as a tribute to Proteas all-rounder Jacques Kallis, at The Wanderers.
Dhoni’s side will then immediately return home for the start of the seven-week Indian Premier League (IPL), which starts next Wednesday.
The game comes on the back of a long tour of Australia as well as this month’s Asia Cup, but despite their busy schedule Dhoni denied his side would be jaded.
“(We are) all happy,” he said after touching down.
“I don’t think fatigue will be a real factor. We all enjoy playing in the IPL... that’s one format where you are not representing your country, and the span of the tournament is slightly longer so you play quite a few games.
“It’s a different exposure. I always felt the platform was good for youngsters because they get to play with some of the best international cricketers. It helps you get a bit fitter also,” said Dhoni.
Dhoni lauded South Africa for their hospitality and the ability to make visiting teams feel comfortable.
“In South Africa, the sports are managed really well. When a team comes everything is in place and in order.”
India coach Duncan Fletcher also backed the staging of the match, claiming it was an opportunity to expose his younger players to foreign conditions.
“We’re trying to develop a young one-day squad and Twenty20 squad,” he said.
“These blokes have played well on the subcontinent and any game they play out of it must be good from an experience point of view. We want to expose them to different pressures and different conditions. There is a lot of talent around, we just need to make sure we give them that experience they require.”
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