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‘It has become tough, but I can’t give more than hundred per cent’
- A Telegraph Exclusive
- Red-hot Dhoni lists special moments from 2005-06
Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Kingston: Consistency is what Mahendra Singh Dhoni is seeking and, well, he has begun the new season with a bang ' bagging the MoM award in Tuesday’s tour-opener in Montego Bay. The 2005-06 season, of course, was marked by stellar performances from this wicketkeeper-batsman who has emerged hot property. Dhoni spoke to The Telegraph at the Hilton the other afternoon and listed special moments of the season that’s now history.

The following are excerpts

On his five most memorable moments

Scoring 183 not out versus Sri Lanka in the Jaipur ODI (India won by six wickets)

I think it was after quite some time that I’d got to bat at No. 3... The very first ball of the day (from Irfan Pathan to Kumar Sangakkara) had suggested the wicket would be absolutely flat and, once somebody settled down, runs wouldn’t be a problem... That I was sent high in the order, chasing 299, gave the opportunity to make it big. I’d decided to ‘read’ the first 12-15 balls before going for my shots... I’d told myself I wouldn’t get impatient... I stuck to that and everything worked out beautifully... That I got the boundaries and big hits at will (16x4, 10x6) gave most satisfaction... Every six or boundary, after all, brought India closer to that formidable target. It’s not that I was looking at a double or wanting to create a record... It just happened that I got past idol Adam Gilchrist’s 172 (the highest by a wicketkeeper in ODIs)... I’d become conscious about it once past 150... (After a pause) The Sri Lankans delayed the power plays, but I’d been determined on not getting impatient and playing into their hands. Sooner or later, they had to use them...

Scoring 45 not out against Sri Lanka in the Pune ODI (India won by four wickets to take an unbeatable 4-0 lead in the seven-match series)

That’s special because the innings came a few days after Jaipur... It was, as you may recall, a very different innings... The circumstances weren’t the same and it was a test of my temperament... I had to curb my free-flowing game and did so without feeling frustrated... I must particularly thank Suresh (Raina) for wonderful support... That Suresh and I run well between wickets helped the team. As the Sri Lankans were attacking, there were gaps and we were able to capitalise... Of course, I confess I’d been under pressure because of what I’d done in the previous outing.

Scoring 148 in the first innings of the Faisalabad Test versus Pakistan (India forced a draw)

Shoaib Akhtar was on fire, with the second new ball... In fact, till then, I hadn’t played anybody that quick... Then, I can’t recall what was being said, but the Pakistanis were sledging... It actually was quite hot out in the middle.... Perhaps, that made me even more determined. The first couple of overs from Shoaib, I think, were consistently in the 148 kmph-plus region... I ducked at a few early on, but realised the (Iqbal Stadium) wicket wasn’t suited for that... It’s then that I decided to counter-attack... It was a conscious move, though in some ways, you could say I didn’t have a choice.. Had I not done so, I would have been a sitting duck... What makes the knock more memorable is that it came in my very first Test innings overseas.

Scoring 72 not out against Pakistan in the Lahore ODI (India won by five wickets)

Frankly, because the situations were similar, I often confuse Lahore with Karachi... It wasn’t easy, but I had a terrific partner in Yuvraj (Singh)' I remember him saying I only had to stay for a while and the initiative would be with us... That’s how it happened and our effort earned the appreciation of President (Pervez) Musharraf... After that win, people began saluting us as good chasers.

Scoring 77 not out versus Pakistan in the Karachi ODI (India won by eight wickets to claim the series 4-1)

Yuvraj and I complemented each other and it resulted in another unbroken hundred-plus partnership... He had a hamstring problem, but didn’t allow the momentum to suffer... I enjoyed our partnership... I scored off the big hits when I wanted to and the asking rate crashed... As it turned out, we chased 287 with some overs to spare... Yuvraj is good at rotating the strike and, obviously, is a very good finisher.

On his worst moment

Right through the 2005-06 season-launching tri-series in Sri Lanka... As a ’keeper, I wasn’t able to read the pace and bounce of the wickets... Then Dambulla had been so windy... I didn’t do well with the bat either... I hope to do much better when we go there later this year (for another tri-series).

Finally, on coping with pressure which has increased after a fantastic 2005-06

(Grins)I accept it has become tough, with everybody suddenly very aware of the ICC rankings, but I can’t give more than hundred per cent... (After a pause) While the pressure won’t go away, I’ve got to continue handling it the way I have ' seeing it as more responsibility and not allowing my mind to get cluttered...

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