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Heat is on

Tipped as a battle between Kevin Pietersen and Dhoni, this series holds the potential to mould both into leaders for some time to come, reports Nilankur Das.

cricket Updated: Nov 14, 2008 01:23 IST
Nilankur Das

From being a naturalised Englishman to becoming the captain of England, Kevin Pietersen has traversed a journey of a lifetime in 28 years. From a small town like Ranchi, to shoulder the responsibility of a team of demigods Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 27 years too has been a fairytale.

Tipped as a battle of these two charismatic personalities, this series holds the potential to mould both into leaders for some time to come. Relatively new to this role, Pietersen comes here with a convincing series win over South Africa. Convinced by his decision-making prowess and a knack of picking players who clicked during India's run to the ICC T20 World Championships title, Dhoni was offered the reins of the ODI side that went on to snatch series wins in Australia and Sri Lanka.

Pietersen, a South African by birth, has coined the switch-hit (remember the reverse six against Muralitharan at Edgbaston). Dhoni has his tennis-ball shots with unorthodox back-lift and a sometimes unusual foowthrough.

“Yes cricket-wise, you might say we are similar to certain extent. But I have not known him much beyond that to tell you whether we are similar off the field as well,” Pietersen said and then went on to shower praises on Dhoni and how he has led India.

"Thank you very much, Pietersen," Dhoni told the press conference when asked what he made of Pietersen's remarks. He of course had a different problem to address. "It's never easy when you are playing back-to-back international tournaments. We all knew the schedule from the start and we were mentally prepared for it. To switch formats in three days is quite tough though. But as professional cricketers, it is expected of us and we have to do it. Half the players in our side did not play the Tests series and that in a way is good," Dhoni said.

Both skippers however said the series is not about individuals. "It's not about targeting an individual, it's about dominating the opponents as a team," Dhoni said.

"Yes, both teams have players who can single handedly change the complexion of a cricket match. But at the end of it it's a test for all the 11 players," was Pietersen's take on whether he believed this series was a battle of sorts between him and Dhoni.