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‘Hopefully, I will have this smile’

Series against Pakistan and Australia hold a lot of importance, says Dhoni, reports Amol Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Sep 20, 2007 17:34 IST
Amol Karhadkar

When Mahendra Singh Dhoni was formally announced as the new Indian captain for the one-dayers at home against Australia and Pakistan, the Indian Twenty20 team was preparing to go for a practice session ahead of their match against England on Wednesday.

And when the team arrived at Kingsmead after a short celebratory lunch, all eyes were fixed on Dhoni. Every scribe was awaiting a ‘golden quote’ from the most sought after man in India.

But unfortunately, Dhoni never turned up for the media conference. Instead, Gautam Gambhir was sent to address the media, and said he had no clue why Dhoni hadn’t turned up.

Then followed the customary dissection of just why the new skipper was unwilling to speak to the press --- had he been instructed by the Board to keep mum? Or was it something else? Everybody had a different opinion.

The media even sent a request to Dhoni through administrative manager Sunil Dev, but the ’keeper declined to appear.

As the team practised their fielding and catching, all eyes were on the new skipper in the hope of catching a quote or two from him. Possibly aware of this, Dhoni seemed to be taking longer than normal.

Finally, following an informal conversation with a few journalists, Dhoni was convinced that it would be better to speak rather than let the media draw their own conclusions.

And when he spoke, he was at his cheerful best.

“It's a very good feeling,” he said on being appointed skipper. “I am the Twenty20 captain, now I am the captain for the next 12 ODIs. The two series against Pakistan and Australia hold a lot of importance for the team."

“They are home series, and we have been playing abroad a lot recently. The England tour was long. And it's important that when we get back, we play well at home.”

Dhoni then spoke about the lack of time he had to decide on his approach as the ODI skipper since all the time had been devoted to ‘preparing for an important match coming up against England’.

Asked who he thought could make the team for the first three ODIs against the Aussies, Dhoni said: “Whoever is in top form and in the best nick will play for the team.”

Did he ever expect to lead India? The prompt reply was: "Well, I never expected to play for India in the first place! But even after I had started playing, captaincy has never been an issue for me. I just wanted to play cricket, I just wanted to enjoy cricket, that's all."

To conclude, when he was asked about his plans to cope with the huge pressure that comes with the job, Dhoni smiled and said: "Hopefully, I will have this smile on my face. Till the time the team does well, nobody bothers you, so essentially we will try to win every match."

Even we hope the same, Mahi!