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Beware of the angry Indians

They came in to this tournament as champions, the first time in five years India are defending an ICC title, and had to make sure the focus stayed on what happened on the field, rather than off it. That was not quite how it panned out and Dhoni knew he had to make a strong statement, reports Arjun Sen.

cricket Updated: Jun 08, 2009 23:44 IST
Arjun Sen

Mahendra Singh Dhoni seems to be steadily slipping in to the role of the angry young man of the Indian team.

The Indian captain did not take kindly to suggestions of a rift between Virender Sehwag and himself, going to great lengths to display the unity within the team at a press conference here last week, bringing out the whole squad and the support staff.

Since then, the Indian players have been keeping to themselves, hardly leaving their hotel and staying as far away from the waiting media as possible.

In their first nets session since the win over Bangladesh, the team, once again, decided not to hold a press conference after practice, which is usually the norm. A good number of players, including Sehwag, were missing from the optional session on Monday. Sehwag’s Delhi mate Gautam Gambhir, offie Harbhajan Singh and star of the moment, Rohit Sharma, also gave it a miss.

If there indeed is some tension within the team, it was impossible to tell. The players were happy, playing the usual game of players v support staff football, and then moving on to a rather long session at the nets.

Zaheer Khan looked to be well on his way to full fitness, bowling for a long time at the batsmen. There has been nothing wrong with the Indian batting so far, and if the way the big guns were middling it on Monday was any indication, Ireland’s bowlers could in be for a pounding on Wednesday.

The ongoing cold war, however, has had its fallouts.

The team, for the most part of the day, are camped inside their hotel, with just a few of them hanging around the lobby or the restaurants.

This is a far cry from the week leading up to the tournament. High Street Kensington in London was bustling with Indian cricketers, shopping, eating out or just taking in the sights and sounds of the city. All that has changed.

The team, and skipper MS Dhoni in particular, was miffed with the stories of a schism in the team.

They came in to this tournament as champions, the first time in five years India are defending an ICC title, and had to make sure the focus stayed on what happened on the field, rather than off it. That was not quite how it panned out and Dhoni knew he had to make a strong statement.

And that, he did.