Life has come a full circle for Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he leaves for England to defend the Twenty20 World Cup title. Two years ago, Dhoni was crowned T20 skipper and the wicketkeeper-batsman is again the proud leader of a group of fierce cricketers looking to re-enact that glorious chapter that unfolded in South Africa in 2007.
Despite non-stop cricket since the tour of New Zealand and the IPL, Dhoni believes his men are ready for the challenge and that fatigue is not a factor for this enthusiastic bunch. "When you play so many matches, you do get tired, it's human. But fatigue is a part of Indian cricket. Till now, the players have done well with it and are more aware of what the body demands."
The gruelling IPL-II schedule saw Virender Sehwag miss matches due to a finger injury, while Zaheer Khan pulled out mid-way owing to a shoulder injury. Though Dhoni allayed fears over Sehwag's injury and lean form in the IPL, he was unsure about Zaheer's fitness. "I am not really worried about Viru or the opening pair, but Zaheer is most likely to get fit by June 3," he said.
The skipper ruled out pressure on the defending champions and thanked the IPL for the much-needed practice. "Why should there be any pressure on us? Like last year, we will play normal cricket, perhaps better as the IPL has helped us a lot. The players have played more T20 recently than anyone else and that's an advantage. They have been thrown into various situations and have learnt to handle pressure."
Dhoni heaped praise on Yusuf Pathan for his impeccable bowling performance in the IPL and even lauded new talent Ravindra Jadeja. "From a part-timer, Yusuf has transformed himself into a specialist spinner. Rohit (Sharma), (Suresh) Raina, Yuvraj (Singh), (Virender) Sehwag and Jadeja have all emerged as wicket-taking bowlers. This gives me an opportunity to use them according to varying situations. Our team bats till number 8 or 9 and with the bowling options, it's the best side that suits the T20 format."
Dhoni, however, refused to take minnows Ireland and Bangladesh lightly. Both countries have punched above their weight in the 50-over format and could do so in T20 as well. "You can't afford to look too far ahead, there is the first round against Bangladesh and Ireland to get through and we all know what can happen," he said, referring to India's unceremonious exit from the 2007 World Cup after losing to Bangladesh.