Dhoni keeps the focus on cricket
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is proud his young team has reached the finals of the CB Series and, as at the World Twenty20 in South Africa last year, has asked his players not to worry about the end result
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: "The verbal part remains but we should focus on our cricket"
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is proud that his young team has reached the finals of the tournament given the scepticism that greeted the squad's announcement. And, as at the World Twenty20 in South Africa last year, he has asked his players not to worry about the end result.
"Winning is important, but winning is not everything," Dhoni said on the eve of the finals when asked if lifting the trophy would be a fitting answer to those who questioned his decision to back youth over experience. Then, his voice more animated, he added: "Those doubting this young side when we came in should now analyse how good this side has been from the previous teams that played in Australia. They should analyse the capabilities of the youngsters, how good they are at the international level."
Dhoni has led by example - India wouldn't have reached this stage without his rescue acts with the bat and his assured captaincy - but believes the team has been improving since the crushing defeat in the Twenty20 game against Australia. "From then, this team, after the eight ODIs, has shaped up very well. The bowling, batting and running are improving but it can be better still."
While providing a word of caution to his team - "It doesn't matter if it's the finals or the semis, we have to get the basics right" - Dhoni emphasised the need to keep things in perspective. "Sometimes we are desperate to win and that's when the pressure mounts, so it's important to be relaxed."
That mantra worked for Dhoni when he led an unfancied and inexperienced side to victory at the World Twenty20. They faced some tough situations during the campaign but managed to stay focused, hold their nerve and emerge victorious. The key was Dhoni's leadership.
Dhoni knows the finals will not be easy, especially given the controversies in the lead-up, like the Ishant Sharma-Andrew Symonds incident
and Matthew Hayden being reprimanded
for his remarks on Harbhajan Singh, that have distracted both teams.
Dhoni says he doesn't mind the aggression but his primary focus will always be cricket. "Throughout the series many things have been said about individuals but we have still gone on to play good cricket. Cricket is about batting, bowling and fielding. The verbal part remains but we should focus on our cricket."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo