M. S. Dhoni has an enviable record as captain. On the field, his steely calmness sends out a message to the rivals that here is a guy who wouldn't get flustered. While batting, despite having mellowed a lot and playing according to situation, his hard-hitting ways remain a concern for the opposition.
As the World Cup nears its knockout stage, the time has come for Dhoni to take a firm grip on things. With tougher teams waiting in the next few games and expectations soaring despite India's pedestrian performance against Ireland and the Netherlands, the pressure on Dhoni is mounting. The skipper, however, is playing it down.
"It's important not to think about expectations because we all know what is expected of us. It's important to find out how we can perform, and not thinking about expectations is one way of doing it. I'm thinking about the process and not about anything else," said Dhoni.
Not occupying a specific slot in the batting order and moving up or down as and when required is not easy. Given the combination India have chosen, Dhoni has to keep doing it.
Although he prefers coming in after a platform has been set and have a blast, he didn't get the chance to do that in the last two games where he had to play the waiting game while chasing.
The pressure on him over the next few days will not be any less than what it was during those rearguard actions. Every successful move he makes will be lauded but failure, even if it's not his, will be castigated with greater intensity.
This World Cup will test Dhoni like no other assignment has. He might say that expectations don't bother him, but they will continue to chase him nonetheless.