Captain's conundrum: Is India over-cooked on or just right?
Feb. 07, 2015
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows his tired team will have to break its drought in Australia very quickly if India is to have any chance of retaining the World Cup title.
The India squad has been in Australia for two months but hasn't yet won a competitive match, losing the four-test series 2-0 and losing every game it played in the limited-overs tri-series against Australia and England.
The question for India going into the World Cup is whether the team is jaded by a long summer Down Under or whether it has served as a good preparation for the upcoming event.
"There's cooked and overcooked, and especially if you do barbecues you'd understand that," Dhoni told a news conference Saturday in Adelaide, where India will play a warm-up match against Australia and then begin its World Cup campaign with a Feb. 15 opener against Pakistan.
"When we went and played the Champions Trophy we were in a similar situation to this — the guys stepped up and that's important in the ICC tournaments."
India didn't qualify for the tri-series final in Perth last week, giving the squad some time to rest ahead of the World Cup.
"This break would have definitely helped them to recharge their batteries ... only time will tell," Dhoni said.
On top of the lack of wins, injuries to opener Rohit Sharma, allrounder Ravindra Jadeja and pace bowler Ishant Sharma have had an unsettling impact on the squad. Dhoni declined to give a status update on the injuries, saying it wasn't the proper forum.
Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, the last time the tournament was staged in Australia and New Zealand. The most recent meeting between the neighbors was in the semifinals in 2011. India won that match and went on to beat Sri Lanka in the final at Mumbai, with Dhoni as captain.
The intense rivalry between the countries and the scarcity of recent clashes — Pakistan cannot host international cricket for security reasons — adds to the drama ahead of the Adelaide match, but Dhoni tried to play down its significance.
"A lot of people have a lot of views about it. How I personally take it, is that it's similar to playing Australia, Sri Lanka or any other test playing nation," Dhoni said. "The moment you start thinking about a traditional rivalry and all of that you are just adding pressure to yourself.
"Also what we have successfully done in the last three to four years, we have mellowed down the things that apart from cricket happen on the field ... we have minimized the verbal things that often happen between the cricketers.
"You want to play hard, but you still have to maintain the spirit of the game. That is one thing that both the sides have done really well."
The 33-year-old Dhoni missed the birth of his daughter last week, unable to return to India so close to the World Cup.
"I have been blessed with a baby daughter. Mum and daughter are both good," he said. "But right now I'm on national duty so everything else can wait. The World Cup is a very important campaign ... everything else can wait as of now.