West Indies v India, 2nd Test, Barbados June 27, 2011

Young players shouldn't get desperate - Dhoni


Finally, beach cricket has been spotted in the Caribbean. They say cricket is disappearing off the streets and beaches but one needs to visit the West Indies to see just how alarming the situation is. In the Trinidad streets it was about music, Antigua was a big village with some pretty beaches, Jamaica wore its heart on its streets. Barbados, though, fits the outsider's perception about the Caribbean. Beach. Music. And cricket.

And bounce. Barbados also promises to present the cricket pitch with the most bounce in the West Indies. The Kensington Oval, re-built before the 2007 World Cup, is a pretty stadium. It is modern and there might be those who lament changing the original ground, but the structure as it stands today looks nice. The curator says it will definitely be a result pitch. MS Dhoni, the India captain, agrees. India are thinking of going with three seamers. Munaf Patel bowled for a long time in the nets and was at his accurate best, extracting bounce from a length.

It's not the bowling but the batting that presents a few concerns for India. M Vijay is yet to click, Abhinav Mukund is yet to settle in, Virat Kohli has a point to prove, Dhoni needs a score, and Suresh Raina, despite his 82 at Sabina Park, will know that the West Indies seamers will come hard at him. The pitch should suit VVS Laxman's style of play and it will be a surprise if he doesn't get runs here.

The Indian camp seems pretty relaxed though. They have practised hard; their training sessions have extended past three hours at times. Even while still in Kingston, they used the extra day after the four-day finish to practise on the centre pitch. Duncan Fletcher, the coach, hovers around, often getting into a one-on-one chat with a batsman, Eric Simons, the bowling coach, does his job, and Trevor Penny, the fielding coach, tells anecdotes and cricket stories to some of the youngsters. It looks and feels like a happy camp. Winning can do that.

"Enjoy your cricket" is a bit of a mantra with this Indian team and Dhoni spoke a bit about his approach to handling the youngsters and how he tries to put them at ease. "Most of my chats with them are informal," Dhoni said. "I don't believe in calling someone and having a big chat because that puts a lot of added pressure on them. If somebody is doing something or involved in fielding practice then a little chit-chat at that time helps because it's informal and doesn't add any pressure."

How does he help the youngsters handle the pressure? Someone like Vijay could sweat over the lack of runs. Abhinav might put himself under pressure thinking he has to show his worth with a big score before Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir return. Kohli might think he needs to show he can play the short ball. These are all possibilities but Dhoni was confident that such insecurities won't slip into the minds of the youngsters.

"What is important is to not get desperate to score runs because then you just put pressure on yourself. Test cricket is different. There is a bit of extra pressure compared to the ODIs or the T20 format. It is very important to relax and enjoy the game."

Dhoni also said that, whether they succeeded or not, some of the young players who are in the squad as replacements for regular members will gain from the experience of playing international cricket. "At the end of the day, they will be winners because they are getting a fair amount of exposure to international cricket. Of course we will have our regular openers -Gambhir and Sehwag - back. But the youngsters would have seen what international cricket is, and how players score runs in these big matches. They will know what they need to improve on. So overall it's a big positive for us."

Dhoni said he doesn't try to fit the players into a framework. "Every character is different in and that's what we respect in this side. Everyone is free to be himself. We don't want anyone to change in a big way. For a fraction of time you can change yourself but if you are going to be in the team for a long time, then we need to accept each and every individual in the way they are.

"The way the [young] guys have conducted themselves on and off the field has been a big positive and I think they are learning a lot out of these games. Hopefully, the youngsters will back up their efforts so far in this match."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jaggadaaku on June 28, 2011, 20:53 GMT

    Dhoni backs youngsters but who will back for him? I mean look at his batting in Tests and ODIs in last couple of years. He is the most successful captain of India until now, that is the only reason, he could be survived in this team. And one more thing, besides his poor form, in India, he has a lots of and lots of fans who can't see his poor batting form; moreover, blindly hail him and praise him like he is a god of Indian Cricket. These days even bowlers of Indian team can make more runs than Dhoni. It is like Janitorial works of Engineers' and Engineers rest. We all knew how Dhoni was several years ago. These days I feel like he does not want to make runs, he does not want to stay on the field. Then please go to your advertisement business and let someone get a chance who really wanna play cricket and let us have some fun watching actual cricket.

  • samya1980 on June 28, 2011, 17:52 GMT

    well, whats is the name of that under 12 little mumbai lad who made some 400 hundreds runs some days ago...this mukunds, vijays will have lots of such under 9,12 competitors when viru and goti will retire..

  • Angad11 on June 28, 2011, 17:20 GMT

    @johnathon- Dhoni deserves every bit of what he is rite now, if you follow Indian cricket closely you will know that. Recently, during the 1st test, i heard Gavaskar saying that roads in Ranchi are being bettered so Dhoni can drive his sports bikes, if that is true, i think he deserves that. As far his batting is concerned, he was also criticized in the world cup for not performing but when it mattered the most, in the FINAL, he gave the knock out punch. So dont worry, he will score when he has to.

  • cricfan26202176 on June 28, 2011, 16:29 GMT

    Dhoni is no good at test cricket himself, his record is poor. noway near the likes of Sangakkara or Gilchrist

  • samya1980 on June 28, 2011, 16:13 GMT

    dhoni had a battle against one parthib patel (and also not forget about one rahul dravid) during his youngstar time..and given the tallent(and backing of an always youngstar suppoting captain) he had it was an easy battle field for him compare to this vijay, mukund, virat, raina who have to fight against...god, should i mention the big names...backing youngstars is not a big deal...even during azhar's(who was not so popular with then youngstars) tenure 2 big youngstars debuted on the same day at lords...

  • kitten on June 28, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    Dhoni is a brilliant captain. Full stop. He is even considered the best captain in the world at this moment in time. That says it all. He has even won as captain of Super Kings, in the IPL, and Super League. This man is a born leader. Forget him not scoring every time, his worth as captain(winning matches) is more important to the country. We all know what he did in the WC final! He knows how to get the best out of his players. Players like Sachin, Ganguly(no less) have stated that he is the best captain they have played under. What more can I say. He will ofcourse have his detractors, but they will be in the 1% or thereabouts. Go Dhoni Go, bring some more laurels for India.

  • moBlue on June 28, 2011, 12:00 GMT

    @jonathonjosephs: "apart from the 92 in the final..."?!? *that* was one of the best ODI innings i have seen under pressure... much like what imran did when PAK won the world cup! didn't dhoni promote himself up the order *despite* having had a poor batting record in the WC until then? isn't that called "shouldering the responsibility" in a crucial game at a crucial time? yet, you dismissed that knock like it was nothing! the final of the WC, for crying out loud! you should learn to give credit where credit is due if you want your criticism of any player to be taken seriously! :-)

  • Saanibhai on June 28, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    why did team did not pick Wasim Jaffer as opener who had a good tour of WI last time and among runs in domestic cricket

  • dummy4fb on June 28, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs:The big fours "Sachin,Sourav,Rahul&Laxman" were already there from early 2000 s but what changed the results of the team are good openrs"Viru& Gautam" .If you analyse teams which were at the top the opening partnership was most important."Greenidge & Haynes" ,"Hayden & Langer".Since the openers will be playing for at least five to six years India dont have to worry.

  • Haleos on June 28, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs - with you argument Ricky ponting is overrated as well? As he had a gr88 team to work with. Dhoni is very good as a captain and the team he has currently is not highly talented barring few players. Most of them like Vijay, Mukund, Badri are overrated and perform only in the IPL and Domestic cricket, yet dhoni wins the games for India. Thats what captaining is all about. As a batsman he may have flaws but is effective. An average of almost 40 in tests and 50 in ODIs is very good in any case so mate chill and dont be jealous.

  • No featured comments at the moment.