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I am what I am: Dhoni

Indian cricket's newest star has the looks of a rock star but does not want to be one.

india Updated: May 10, 2006 17:00 IST

Indian cricket's newest star, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has the looks of a rock star but does not want to be one -- all he wants to be is Adam Gilchrist.

The dashing wicketkeeper-batsman, who has taken the cricket world by a storm in just 42 One-day matches in which he averages nearly 53 with the highest of 183 not out and a tremendous strike rate of 103, has his priorities clear as he outlined in an interviewon Wednesday.

"I will always want to be a cricketer. Being a rock star has never interested me," he said when asked if he would have taken to rock music had he not been a cricketer.

For the countless admirers of his mane, Dhoni had good news.

"I have no plans of shortening it (hair)," he said in an assertion that will gladden Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf who advised the Indian star during the recent Lahore one-dayer to keep his hair long.

Did he fancy himself to be the next Gilchrist, Australia's match-winning wicketkeeper-batsman, and would he like to play a similar role in the Indian cricket team?

"I would love to play the role of Gilchrist forever. He is someone I look up to. He has been playing for more than 10 years and me just for 16 months. Reaching his position will take a lot of hard work," the 24-year-old replied.

Dhoni keeps wickets and bats brilliantly, but if it was possible he would bowl as well.

"Initially I was regarded as a wicketkeeper who could slog. It was only later on that I recognised that I was not that bad in batting as well that I started concentrating on my batting.

"In fact, I like bowling as well and do bowl at the nets," he said.

It has been a dream run since he made his debut for India 16 months ago and he would like that run to continue indefinitely.

"It is one of the greatest experiences for me. In fact, it has been the experience of a lifetime. I will never forget it and hope that this continues till the time I play cricket for my country," Dhoni said.

Amazingly, the Ranchi-born does not feel any pressure of public adulation and expectations as he has shown in several of his innings in tight situations.

His explanation is simple. "There is never any pressure on me. As a matter of fact anyone who plays cricket for India should expect public adulation and expectations. In fact, I wish they (public) support us all the time. It is especially needed when the team is doing bad," he said.

Reminded of his unusual strokes such as the sweep close to the leg stump, Dhoni said that he would not change the way he played because "I am what I am." But he admitted there was scope for improvement in all areas of his game.

First Published: May 10, 2006 17:00 IST