MS Dhoni India
Skipper MS Dhoni believes India have proven they can do well away from home. Steve Haag/BCCI/SPORTZPICS

The first thing that always gets bandied around whenever India embark on a tour outside the sub continent is the team's poor record away from home.

After being thumped by England and Australia overseas, India lost the plot in the second Test against South Africa to concede the Test series, while looking hopelessly out of their depth in the one-day internationals.

However, mention the brittle nature of India's performance abroad, and India skipper MS Dhoni turns defensive. "I think more often than not we have this [label] only for the subcontinent teams," Dhoni told reporters before flying to New Zealand for the tour, starting with ODIs from January 19. "We don't think about others who have visited different countries and not done well.

"We lost in the last series in South Africa and before that we didn't perform well in England and Australia, but other than that we have done really well in West Indies, New Zealand or South Africa. I think this is a tagline which has been associated with us and you guys [media] just love to say it."

One positive to come out of the South Africa tour, however, was the performances of some of the players, which in turn has helped settle the squad following the retirements of some of the biggest names ever to play the game of cricket for India.

Dhoni feels that consistency will help the team in New Zealand, where India won both the Test and ODI series last time around.

"The good thing is that though there have been quite a few changes, before we went for the last tour we got enough time in India," Dhoni said. "Quite a few of them played Test matches in India and we did well and were confident of their ability.

"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.

"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.

"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.

"Yes, the red ball does slightly more and for slightly longer periods in Test matches and it's different, but if you have the talent to perform in one format, definitely you have the talent to perform in others too."

India have always banked on the spinners to play a primary role in taking 20 wickets in a Test match. One aspect that became clear in South Africa was that the fast bowlers will struggle to bowl a team out two times in a Test, even if the likes of Mohammed Shami have shown much promise.

That puts the onus, a little, on Ravindra Jadeja, impressive in the second Test against South Africa, and R Ashwin, who has struggled considerably outside home, and Dhoni feels patience is the name of the game for the tweakers.

"When you travel outside one thing the home team loves to do is make wickets that don't turn at all," Dhoni added. "The reason being that we don't have an all-rounder so we don't play with five specialist bowlers.

"If the ball doesn't spin they [the opposition] can take runs off the spinner, rotate the strike and look to score over three runs an over, and that actually puts the pressure on the captain. You don't want them to score over three-and-a-half runs an over when the spinner is bowling. [Then] you're forced to bring back the fast bowlers and they end up exhausted after the first day workout.

"[The] spinners need to learn to accept that when they travel abroad, especially when they are bowling on the opening day of a Test match, they have a different role. They need to have a bit more patience and not give away runs and that will ensure we build pressure from one end and when the ball turns, we can go for the kill."