Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Calcutta: Mahendra Singh Dhoni has achieved a lot as the captain of the Indian team. Winning the World T20, being ranked the No.1 Test team, winning the ODI World Cup… The 32-year-old is now aiming to help India become the third country after Australia and the West Indies to win back-to-back ODI World Cups.
On Friday, the ICC marked the countdown to the 2015 World Cup with a year to go to the start of the mega event to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking on the occasion, Dhoni, who hit the winning runs in Mumbai when India won the title in 2011, said that his side has players who were capable of handling the pressure of a global event.
He also added that the victory in the Champions Trophy last year proved that India have the firepower and ability to excel outside their own territory.
“It is amazing to think that it is just one year until we defend our World Cup title as that means it is almost three years since we won the trophy on that amazing night in Mumbai. The memories of that night and of the whole tournament are as fresh and as special as ever,” said Dhoni.
In the 2015 Cup, India will open their title defence against traditional rivals and 1992 champions Pakistan, in Adelaide, on February 15.
“We know that defending the World Cup title is something that only West Indies and Australia have done over the whole history of the tournament… But with the quality we have in and around our squad, we believe we can become the third side to do it.
“We have a group of players who are experienced at playing in high-pressure situations…
“We have already shown we are capable of dealing with the dual pressures of being the world champions and coping in overseas conditions at a major ICC event by winning the Champions Trophy last year,” Dhoni added.
While India won their first title in 1983 under Kapil Dev, Clive Lloyd led the West Indies to titles in 1975 and 1979, and Steve Waugh (1999) and Ricky Ponting (2003 and 2007) were at the helm when Australia won the tournament in England, South Africa and the West Indies.
Dhoni also said that the New Zealand tour has allowed his side to experience the conditions they will face during the 2015 tournament.
“Although we did not win our latest ODI series in New Zealand, it has given us valuable experience of what we can expect in 12 months’ time. It’s all about getting our plans in place and remaining confident, and, if we can do that, then we will be in a good place by the time the action starts next February,” Dhoni said.
“I remember the joy that winning the World Cup brought to all Indians all over the world in 2011 and we want to do the same again by playing to the best of our ability in 2015,” he added.
Australia captain Michael Clarke, who was just 11 years old when Australia last hosted the World Cup in 1992, said he was thrilled that the event was returning to his country. “The World Cup is the pinnacle of one-day cricket and we're thrilled that it's going to be held in our own backyard,” said Clarke.
“The best players in the world will be coming to Australia and New Zealand and we're looking forward to playing good entertaining cricket.
“I encourage as many Australians and New Zealanders as possible to get behind this amazing event," Clarke added.
Brendon McCullum, meanwhile, hopes to lead New Zealand to their maiden World Cup title.
"We're travelling well at the moment with a number of young guys having stepped up against the West Indies and India. The team has had tremendous support over the summer, so we're keen to continue our current form into the World Cup and get the whole country behind us," said McCullum.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said the top ODI sides were evenly matched and it will be difficult to pick a clear winner. “The pitches and conditions will be a lot different. For the players who are not accustomed to playing there, it will be a big challenge. As I have said before, the teams are more evenly matched and you cannot pick out any outright favourites. That is unique about this World Cup,” he said.