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Gambhir’s return will boost the side: Dhoni

'We will miss Sehwag, but Gambhir's return will strengthen the team. He's one player who can make a difference,' MS Dhoni told reporters on Thursday.

Mumbai: Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that Gautam Gambhir's return will boost the team in the ICC Champions Trophy that begins in South Africa from September 22.

 

Gambhir, who missed the tri-nation series in Sri Lanka due to a groin strain, passed the fitness test before the team's departure for the eight-nation elite tournament.

 

India had difficulty with their opening combination as Virender Sehwag is also out with a shoulder injury.

 

In the absence of the two regular openers, India tried out Dinesh Karthik and Rahul Dravid as Sachin Tendulkar's partner in Sri Lanka.

 

'We will miss Sehwag, but Gambhir's return will strengthen the team. He's one player who can make a difference,' Dhoni told reporters here on Thursday.

 

India will be a confident side going into the event, after winning the tri-series in Colombo, their sixth stright ODI series win.

 

'We don't really want to set a target that we can't reach. So we take every game as just another game,' Dhoni said.

 

'We don't think about rankings or ratings. We just enjoy our game.'

 

In the group stage, India have been placed alongside defending champions Australia, ICC World Twenty20 champions Pakistan and West Indies.

 

'We are in a tough group and so it's important to give our best from the start,' said Dhoni.

 

'We are well prepared for the tournament and we are looking at things we need to do right.'

 

India were the joint-winners with hosts Sri Lanka in the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy.

 

The recall of Rahul Dravid to the One-day team after almost two years will serve India well on pacy South African pitches.

'Dravid batting at number three especially in South African conditions that suit fast bowlers will be of big help,' said Dhoni.

 

'We have some stroke players in the lower order and it's important to give them a platform from where they can launch their innings.'

 

'It's a tournament where you expect tough competition. We are preparing for each and every team in the same way, it doesn't really make any difference whether it is Pakistan or Australia or Zimbabwe,' he said.

 

India will be without their bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan, who is also nursing a shoulder injury.

 

The team will look upto Ishant Sharma, who received some belting in the tri-series, and comeback man Ashish Nehra to deliver.

 

'There is a lot of scope for improvement in the bowling department. We have to do well in the bowling department, especially in the middle overs and in the slog overs. We also need to raise our fielding standard,' Dhoni said.

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