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Dhoni defends his insistence on young players

The India ODI captain asserts the Australian win had sent a message that the young side could beat the best in the world even without the senior players.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 19, 2008 11:02 PM IST

India ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni asserted that by winning the tri-series in Australia, his team had sent a strong message that the young side could beat the best in the world even without the senior players.

Senior cricketers Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were left out of the ODI squad, announced a day after the historic Test win in Perth, but Dhoni said the tri-series triumph had silenced those who criticised the youth-oriented team.

"I was pretty clear about the players I wanted in the side. That's what I said to the selectors as well. You can see the kind of team I got," he said.

"It's very important because the process and the timing (of the selection) were criticised a lot. But sometimes it is very important to send the message across, because sometimes people neglect the answer," Dhoni told cricinfo.

The young captain said he told his ODI team-mates to perform in view of the questions being raised about their ability to handle demanding conditions and majority of them having not played in Australia.

"What now? Why are people not asking the same questions now? Because if the result was not in our favour, what would have happened? Would the people have been really behind this side or behind individuals?" an apparently hurt Dhoni said.

"You (the critics) questioned this side but now that it's performed you need to back it," he said of India's first one-day series triumph in Australia in 23 years.

"We all knew, and you all knew, what would have happened if this side didn't do well in Australia. Now that it has done well, why don't you appreciate the performance?"

Dhoni made it clear that the aggressive tactics against Australia in the tri-series were premeditated and not fake.

"In the CB Series you hardly saw any conflict between India and Sri Lanka. If your are playing against an aggressive side, you need to play an aggressive game. Especially against Australia, you can't just look to play and win -- it's batting, bowling, fielding, aggression, everything," he said.

"Fortunately this side has got a few players who can speak and do well at the same time and won't get disturbed by it ... You need to identify those who can be pepped up and do well while they're speaking. In a way I'm fortunate to have those players in the side, rather than ask those who are not comfortable doing it ... I won't name names but there were individuals who were saying things, within the boundaries."

Dhoni asserted that this young side can play aggressive cricket and felt happy that they have set standards on how to play aggressive without affecting their game.

"We had set the standards back in India, when we played (the ODI series) against Australia. We knew what we really wanted to do on the field. If we were not up to the mark in Australia, people would have said it was fake aggression ... It was not fake aggression, that's how this team can play," Dhoni said.

He would not also want his team-mates to rest on a few laurels like the tri-series win and said they would have to cultivate the winning habit.
"Of course you can't live by it (tri-series victory). You need to perform consistently and if you're raising the standard you have to stand by it. You have to keep on doing well," he said.

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