‘1983 a motivation for players’
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was still in his nappies when India won the World Cup. Twenty-five years later, as he prepares to lead the team in the Asia Cup, Dhoni said the epochal event was still a motivation for his players.cricket Updated: Jun 23, 2008 00:22 IST
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was still in his nappies when India won the World Cup. Twenty-five years later, as he prepares to lead the team in the Asia Cup, Dhoni said the epochal event was still a motivation for his players.
"Doodh pi raha tha (I was drinking milk),” Dhoni replied with a grin when asked what he was doing on June 25, 1983.
“For any cricketer (in India), that moment at Lord's can still be a strong motivation. We won the T20 World Cup last year and we want to win the 50-50 version also,” the skipper said on the eve of the team's departure to Pakistan.
It is just as well that the Asia Cup starts on June 24, a day before the 25th anniversary of India's triumph at Lord's.
For, what other relevance has a continental event that has effectively just three participants and has been frequently interrupted by political developments?
Coach Gary Kirsten, however, saw it differently.
“It is difficult for me to say, but I am looking forward to it. Winning the tournament will be a feather in my cap,” said the South African.
“We have to prepare for tournaments ahead, particularly the Champions Trophy (to be held in Pakistan in September). The Asia Cup can be a part of that.”
Dhoni was cautiously confident about the team's chances. “We have done well whenever we have toured Pakistan. But that is in the past. We have to start fresh and do it all over again,” he said.
Indian lost to Pakistan in the tri-series final in Bangladesh earlier this month and have a chance to set the record straight.
“We did well in the middle overs in the league phase but lost a few wickets in the final which put us under pressure,” Dhoni said.
“The middle overs are important. Teams now score about 100 runs in the last 10 overs, so it becomes important to maintain a run-rate of 5.50 in the middle. That is an area we have to work on." Four-time champions India are in Group B with Pakistan and Hong Kong while Group A features Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and UAE. The final is slated for July 6.
Squad: M.S. Dhoni (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Piyush Chawla, Gautam Gambhir, Manpreet Gony, Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma and R.P. Singh.