ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

India v Sri Lanka, World Cup 2011, final, Mumbai

It's all about remaining in the present - Dhoni

As India prepare for the third World Cup final in their history, captain MS Dhoni has highlighted the importance of maintaining focus

Nagraj Gollapudi in Mumbai

April 1, 2011

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni addresses a press conference the day before the World Cup final, Mumbai, April 1 2011
MS Dhoni has urged his team to maintain their intensity in the World Cup final © Getty Images

The Sri Lankans had finished their practice. They had even freshened up after a three-hour workout under a gruelling sun. Yet they had not left the Wankhede stadium. They hung around on the balcony of the changing room - both coaches and players - silently staring at the Indians training in the distance. It was an act of plain, studied observation. MS Dhoni's India, the pre-tournament favourites, have lived up to their billing and demonstrated over the course of the last 41 days why they are a formidable opponent. In the last week India kept their nerve to knock out Australia and Pakistan. No wonder Sri Lanka are wary.

Down in the middle, the Indians did nothing extraordinary in their final training session. There was an elastic ease about their workouts - in their batting, in their bowling and in their fielding. There was also the intensity that has become a by-word for Gary Kirsten's India. In his three-year tenure, Kirsten has developed a training routine that players like participating in. Rather than treating the practice sessions as chores, the players enjoy them, and that has helped maintain momentum.

Two days after the semi-final against Pakistan, a match Dhoni admitted had "drained" the team completely, India were back on the field with fresh legs and fresh ideas. Playing the final of the World Cup can stir various emotions and spur players and, according to Dhoni, the short gap between the semis and the final was actually an advantage because it would not allow the players to lose their focus.

"One good thing is we did not have a long break between the semi-finals and the final. Yesterday was the travelling day and today the practice day, so that really helps not to think too much about the future. We are just being in the present and preparing ourselves for the big game," Dhoni said.

On the eve of the Pakistan match, Dhoni said India would treat the game like any other. Today he admitted that had not been the case. "It was a big game. India versus Pakistan is always a big game. And when you saw the guest list there was further pressure on us. There is pressure on individuals when we are playing Pakistan," he said. "But at the same time we know as a team what the hype is, what the expectations are. Of course, we are quite drained after the semi-finals. But the last two days we have utilised as best we could to give our best in the finals."

When asked if the plans change for a team like Sri Lanka, a different opponent when compared to Australia and Pakistan, Dhoni said that more than the opposition, it was their own preparation and performance on the field that was the determining factor. "The preparation remains the same, [it's] just that the opponents change. It is about how you turn up on the field and what you actually do on the field. We know strengths, the weaknesses and what we need to do on the field."

Dhoni felt India had not yet played to full potential and said they had built slow momentum going forward with every match. "Every game was a challenge for us. As soon as we reached the knockout stages, and the teams we played in the quarters and the semis, we had to be at our best. That is what we did. We were not thinking about the result. We were thinking about how we need to prepare ourselves, how we needed to increase the intensity on the field so that we can field better. There is no moment when you are switched off when you are on the field."

Tomorrow, once again, nothing can distract them. Not Sachin Tendulkar going for his 100th century. Not the match being Kirsten's final game as India's coach. Not playing the final in front of another full house. "It is all about this particular game, remaining in the present."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 46 
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Posted by Praveen on (April 2, 2011, 7:08 GMT)

C'mon Lions...give your best...we are proud of you!!!

Posted by Sachin on (April 2, 2011, 6:52 GMT)

For all those who say that Dhoni is lucky and he inherited a tem built by Gnguly and Blah blah...remember one thing....the same team was inherited by Dravid..u all know what happened..after that only Dhoni came to the picture...and besides look what his captaincy has done for the Chenaai super Kings..dont tell me that this team was also built by Ganguly!!

Posted by Vinay on (April 2, 2011, 6:47 GMT)

India, the best team in the world...they havent even reached full potential and we aqre in the finals...Not once this tournament has out whole line up performed...If we click today, im sorry to say, but Sri Lanka are dead..

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 2, 2011, 6:39 GMT)

India are favourites to win the match against Srilanka being their Batting is strong with plenty of depth and most importantly in great form.Further their bowler from initial stage struggle suddenly finding the grip in the knockout stages.Plus they are more battle hardened than Srilanka in this World cup and apart from the game against Pakistan and Wash out game against aussies the lankan were not tested yet.....

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 2, 2011, 6:14 GMT)

In most likelihood, Sri Lanka is going to play 3 spinners (with Thisara Parera most likely to replace Angelo Mathews); if thats the case, India should include Pathan at the expense of Virat Kohli. Malinga is going to bowl max 3 overs at stretch & with such powerful batting line-up India got, he is not a threat. So, India should maximize against Lanka's spinners & Pathan could be absolutely lethal against them, mind you he can also chip in with 4-5 overs. Sreesanth should replace Nehra. My Final XI: 1. Sachin 2. Sehwag 3. Gambhir. 4. Yuvraj 5. Yusuf 6.Dhoni 7. Raina 8. Harbhajan 9. Zaheer 10. Munaf 11. Sreesanth. Most importantly, Yusuf should come before powerplay as Malinga is most likely to bowl in powerplays & yusuf is not good against yorkers & short balls. Jai Ho.....Go India Go

Posted by Srinivas on (April 2, 2011, 6:07 GMT)

dont want this wc final to be an anti-climax like 1999,2003 & 2007....we need a good match and india should wine of course.....

Posted by Cric on (April 2, 2011, 5:37 GMT)

I saw comments from BD fans comment on beating India in this world cup 2011 and the World knows the rest. In the same way SL fans are writing the similar comments, world will see the Result in 11 hrs from here.

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 2, 2011, 5:14 GMT)

To be brutally honest, I don't care who wins. And it doesn't matter what I care.

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 2, 2011, 5:06 GMT)

if there ever was such as a thing as a 'fairy tale mark in one's career'', it has to be now , for the great man, Sachin Tendulkar. Best wished from the whole United states of America, where we are all watching eagerly for you to get your 100th international hundred, on the biggest stage in world cricket! count on Dhoni to lead from the front with excellent team changes and leadership, although i hope he bats well too today, he is due for a big knock. It will be a cracker of a match, india has to beware of thissara perera, he has been the thorn in their flesh in recent india-lanka encounters. Jai Hind !

Posted by Senthil on (April 2, 2011, 4:45 GMT)

@kumarcoolbuddy - Only problem is there are no lions in Sri Lanka. Only the ones in the zoo. They don't do any killing. Just eat whatever is thrown in the cage!

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