| 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 Tuesdayís 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 thatís 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 Iíd 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 wouldnít be a problem... That I was sent high in the order, chasing 299, gave the opportunity to make it big. Iíd decided to Ďreadí the first 12-15 balls before going for my shots... Iíd told myself I wouldnít 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. Itís not that I was looking at a double or wanting to create a record... It just happened that I got past idol Adam Gilchristís 172 (the highest by a wicketkeeper in ODIs)... Iíd become conscious about it once past 150... (After a pause) The Sri Lankans delayed the power plays, but Iíd 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)
Thatís special because the innings came a few days after Jaipur... It was, as you may recall, a very different innings... The circumstances werenít 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 Iíd been under pressure because of what Iíd 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 hadnít played anybody that quick... Then, I canít 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 wasnít suited for that... Itís then that I decided to counter-attack... It was a conscious move, though in some ways, you could say I didnít 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 wasnít 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... Thatís 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 didnít 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 íkeeper, I wasnít able to read the pace and bounce of the wickets... Then Dambulla had been so windy... I didnít 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 canít give more than hundred per cent... (After a pause) While the pressure wonít go away, Iíve got to continue handling it the way I have ' seeing it as more responsibility and not allowing my mind to get cluttered...