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Dhoni eyes unique feat

- Hafeez looking forward to encounter vs India
Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Calcutta: While one may think that Mahendra Singh Dhoni has already achieved quite a lot, both as a player and captain, the man himself remains as hungry as ever.

Having led India to outstanding victories in the 2011 World Cup and the Champions Trophy earlier this year. Dhoni has now trained his gun on the upcoming edition World T20, to be held in Bangladesh next year.

As the International Cricket Council (ICC), along with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), celebrated the 100-day countdown to the 2014 World T20, on Friday, in three host cities, Dhoni revealed his wish for achieving a “unique feat”.

“It’s personally quite exciting for me as a captain, as I look forward to leading India’s quest to reclaim the World T20 title… If India manage to snare this coveted trophy, we will complete a unique feat as we already hold the (ODI) World Cup and Champions Trophy… We are familiar with the conditions in Bangladesh and I’m sure they will suit our style of play,” Dhoni was quoted as saying in an ICC media release.

“…With just 100 days to go to the World T20, we can barely wait for the start of the event, and look forward to producing our best performances against some of the best sides in the world,” Dhoni added.

Dhoni’s Pakistan counterpart, Mohammed Hafeez, is looking forward to the match against India on March 21 and says they have to be on guard from the very first ball. “Our group is an interesting one, and includes defending champions the West Indies, former winners India, Australia as well as the side that tops Group A from the first round. And when the tournament opener is against India, then you’ve got to be on top of your game from the very first ball,” Hafeez said.

“Our recent performances have given us a lot of confidence and belief, and I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to perform to the best of our abilities with the support and blessings of our followers,” he said.

Speaking on the Pakistan team’s approach towards the event, Hafeez said: “The World T20, like any other ICC event, will be a thrilling and action-packed tournament in which all the sides will aim for nothing less than the coveted trophy.

“We have a proud record in the World T20, having played in two finals, winning one in 2009, and two semi-finals, and we will try our best to do one better than the last time and equal the achievement of 2009 that gave the country so much happiness and delight,” Hafeez said.

While India and Pakistan will be strong contenders for the title, one cannot underestimate the might of West Indies in the shortest format of the game. Plus, they are the defending champions. Captain Darren Sammy promised that his team will have the same desire that helped them lift the trophy in 2012.

“At the last World T20, our slogan was ‘One Team, One Goal’, and we achieved our mission to win the tournament. We will have the same desire for next year’s tournament, as we seek to become the first team to win back-to-back World T20 titles,” Sammy said.

“As the title-holders, we expect that all the other teams will be coming hard at us, but no extra incentive or motivation is required when we wear the West Indies uniform, and they can expect to get as good they give. With conditions in Bangladesh likely to be similar to Sri Lanka last year, we are all fired up and looking for an encore,” he added.

On his team, Sammy said: “We will again have a well-balanced and talented squad, looking to prove themselves and justify our high pre-tournament billing, and we promise to entertain cricket fans all over the world, not just with the quality of our play, but also our unique style and flair, just as we did in Sri Lanka.”

From the hosts' point of view, Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said: "…This is an amazing feeling. I believe I can truly relate to the passion and excitement of the whole of Bangladesh as we wait in eager anticipation of what I am sure will be a magnificent event. Bangladesh's love for the game of cricket is legendary.

“I am aware of what the home fans are hoping to see from us and the team have also raised the bar in regards to what it intends to achieve. Our eyes are firmly fixed on March 16, when we start our campaign against Afghanistan. We will give it our best shot,” he said.