MS Dhoni says he is worried about the quality of India's bowling and fielding on the eve of the triangular one-day tournament with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. India, who ended 2009 as the International Cricket Council's (ICC) top-ranked Test team, have underachieved in the shorter formats of the game, although the recent 3-1 series win over Sri Lanka seems to suggest they have turned a corner. Their star-packed side have often looked amateurish in the field with dropped catches an alarming, and regular, fixture in their play.
Dhoni has the added problem of an inaccurate bowling attack. His best bowlers were blasted by Sri Lanka's depleted line-up, and he is calling for his charges to show more consistency, especially towards the end of games. "Our bowling and fielding is a matter of concern," says Dhoni. "Our bowling, especially at the death, has been a problem area for some time, although we seemed to have shown some improvement recently.
"We have been good in patches, but we are not consistent enough and I don't see why we cannot be consistent. "We are at a low at the moment, but it is only a matter of time before we get it right." Hosts Bangladesh take on Sri Lanka in the opening match of the tournament today and although India and Sri Lanka are favourites to make the final, the India opening batsman and vice-captain, Virender Sehwag, is not taking the home side lightly.
"We expect both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to be very competitive," says Sehwag. "Sri Lanka are the toughest considering their strength, but there is no question of taking anyone for granted. "Bangladesh are a tough team to play at home and on their day they are capable of beating any team in the world. "We have got to play good, competitive cricket and once we do that the results will take care of itself."
Bangladesh are blighted by injury with captain Mashrafe Mortaza overlooked for selection due to a knee injury with fellow fast bowler Nazmul Hossain ruled out with a thigh injury. Left-hand opening batsman Tamim Iqbal has played only one competitive match on the domestic circuit in the build-up to the tournament, while wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, Aftab Ahmed and left-arm paceman Syed Rasel have only just recovered from injuries.
Sri Lanka too have a revamped squad with several young players in the team, but manager Brendon Kuruppu believes he presides over a very talented squad. "Despite the lack of big names such as Mahela Jayawardene, Sanath Jayasuriya and Muttiah Muralitharan who, between them, have tons of experience, this team has enough potential to carry them forward," says Kuruppu. "Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga and Sangakkara all scored heavily in the recent series in India.
"Chamara Silva has made a comeback and now it is up to him to justify the selectors' choice and deliver the goods. "The other player who would be under scrutiny is young batsman Lahiru Thirimanne. "He opened the batting for his school team and now plays in the middle-order in club cricket. "He has a good opportunity to cement his place in the team especially with the World Cup in the subcontinent around the corner." Each team will play the other twice in the tournament while the top two will contest the final on January 13. * PA Sport