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The flowing mane is no longer there. And only two of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 2007 teammates, Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma, remain by his side in this campaign. There was little expectation then, people hardly knew what T20 was before the Indian Premier League became the opium to world’s cricket addiction.
This time on, India desperately need to take the trophy back home after a series of losses in South Africa, New Zealand and in the Asia Cup. Dhoni also needs to win this so that there is some respite from the increasing legal scrutiny on officials and himself.
Also, the Indian Premier League not starting in India might not create the wave of delirium to wash away all ills surfacing around the game. Having qualified for the semifinals for the first time since 2007, this is India’s best chance to restore the coolness to the captain.
Centre of focus
Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf had praised Dhoni’s long hair in Lahore in 2006, advising him not to cut it, as if he was Samson and his power came from his hair. He keeps his hair short now and there is significant amount of grey. His power, of course, has not diminished, only questions have been raised.
“Yes, I have changed a lot,” Dhoni said. “Now, when I look in the mirror, I see a lot of grey. That’s a blessing. Apart from that, the way T20 is getting played is completely different nowadays.
A lot has changed but still when you are a part of the Indian team, the amount of pressure is the same. Once you have 100kg on you, it doesn’t matter if it is a mountain on top of you or just 100 kg because it is all the same. That’s the kind of expectations on us, and that will always be the same,” he said.
Hit and giggle
But the skipper felt the approach of players to T20 has changed a lot. “T20 was taken more in a joking way where they said ‘ok, have fun’. They used to mike up guys, tell them ‘have fun guys, it’s a different format’. Now it is more intense,” he said.
“You don’t see people enjoying it, the fun part is gone. They want to win, they want to try shots nobody has heard of. It has changed a lot.”
Rohit Sharma too believes this is India’s best chance. “Absolutely, this is our best chance. (But) We’re not looking too far ahead.”
R Ashwin though had good vibes coming from India’s Champions Trophy win in England. “There are lots of similarities. There are small things which obviously nobody hears of because they don’t go out.
Those are all small things, superstitions that we carry. There’s a lot that’s similar to the Champions Trophy. We’re enjoying ourselves. For once we’re not looking at the result. We’re not looking at what we need to achieve. If we’re lucky enough, we’ll be here until the sixth. That’s how we look at it.”