The Telegraph
Friday , March 21 , 2014
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Much happening away from the pitch, but Dhoni is calm

- For Team India captain, the past doesn’t matter
Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Mirpur, on Thursday, the eve of India’s match against Pakistan

Dhaka: Away from the 22 yards, there’s plenty happening in Indian cricket and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni isn’t far from the centre of a storm which appears to be gathering momentum.

Already, there’s considerable focus on March 25, when the Supreme Court back home is expected to pass orders on the Justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal probe committee report.

Dhoni is among those to have deposed before the committee, probing the IPL scandals of 2013.

On Thursday afternoon, however, Dhoni was his calm self as he addressed the media in the lead up to India’s World T20 opener, versus Pakistan.

It’s unlikely that Dhoni hasn’t been affected by the recent goings-on, but kudos for staying unruffled. Publicly, at least.

Not that Dhoni can’t hit back.

Indeed, on Tuesday, Dhoni successfully moved court for a restraining order and sought damages to the tune of Rs 100 crore from two media organisations and an IPS officer who has been suspended.

According to a well-placed source of The Telegraph, initially, Dhoni wanted to claim Rs 300 crore, but scaled it down to the amount sought.

It’s a tough time for Dhoni on two fronts: Personal and professional. But don’t bet on the India captain cracking. Rather, he may make the most significant contribution in edition No.5 of the World T20.

Having missed the recent Asia Cup, owing to a side strain, this is Dhoni’s comeback in the India colours.

Back in 2007, as a rookie captain, Dhoni had brought home the inaugural trophy. After that, though, there has been a blank in the shortest format.

At the media conference, Dhoni was also candid (conceding that the bowling continued to be a worry) and that the past didn’t matter.

The present would.

That was said in the context of India always getting the better of Pakistan in events with the ‘World’ label — World Cup and the World T20.

Awesome, really.

It’s widely believed that the tension of old is no longer there in Indo-Pak matches, but Dhoni made the point that the intensity remained high.

As for Mohammed Hafeez, the Pakistan captain, he acknowledged that the day was just hours away.

Unusually, Hafeez seemed a bit tense, but key bowler Saeed Ajmal was his chirpy self. “Main pressure mein nahin aata... Mujhe bowling hi karni hai, aur to kuch nahin,” he told this Reporter at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon.

It’s a tough group, with reigning champions the West Indies, Australia and hosts Bangladesh the other teams.

Soon enough, then, the men will be separated from the boys.

For now, it’s to be seen whether Varun Aaron is retained (Amit Mishra could come in), but he was in confidence-giving company at dinner.

With Aaron were vice-captain Virat Kohli and senior-most pro Yuvraj Singh.

Pakistan, one learns, may field three quicks.

Typically, India’s team management kept mum, but it’s understood that young Mohit Sharma is injured and could have to return home.

INDIA (likely): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron/Amit Mishra. Match starts: 7 pm (IST).