Dhoni seeks continuation of India's success
India captain MS Dhoni wants his side to keep up their impressive run from the recently concluded Champions Trophy in England. The same squad that was part of the title triumph last Sunday, with the exception of Irfan Pathan whose hamstring injury gave Shami Ahmed his first overseas assignment with India, are in the West Indies gearing up for a tri-series with the hosts and Sri Lanka.
"What is very important for us is not to look too far ahead. We will take it series by series," Dhoni said. "We just finished a world tournament in the UK and now we are in the West Indies. First, we will have to see the two teams which are ahead of us. The performance was really good in UK but we need to continue."
India begin their campaign against West Indies, who are playing at home for the first time under Dwayne Bravo's leadership, on June 30 and Dhoni is certain his side have to tackle a familiar surplus of expectation.
"The demands (of the fans) remain the same. The expectation when it comes to the Indian cricket team has always been the same," he said at the launch of the tri-series cup in Jamaica. "If things are moving, it will only move in one direction which is up"
The tri-series will have each team facing the other two twice in the preliminary stage to determine which teams will vie for the trophy in the final at Port of Spain on July 11. Dhoni, who has become the first captain to win the World Cup, the World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy, attributed the team's success to a dressing-room environment that thrived on each other's performances.
"I'm fortunate to have the players in the side to really soak up the pressure. What we have done really well is we have enjoyed each other's success and that has really contributed to the side winning most of the games," he said. "If I'm happier than the person who has actually scored a century or a fifty, you understand that's the kind of atmosphere that you want, because at the end of the day, what we play is a team sport."
India looked a side that was hungry for success in the Champions Trophy. The players were willing to compete for places in the XI, as was the case when Rohit Sharma stepped up to open the batting in place of M Vijay, and displayed exceptional fielding skills in England, a healthy by-product of the transition from the old guard with the 2015 World Cup in mind.
"It's important that the guys sitting out just to wait for their chance, don't think that if this guy does badly I will get a chance," Dhoni said. "They can use that period to improve themselves and whenever the chance, whatever the reason may be, fitness or form, they try to earn that place in the side."