Emotions are extreme in India, says Dhoni

Starting from India’s tour of England last ye­ar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and India have experienced a wretched run in Test cricket, losing nine matches whi­le winning five. His own modest form with the bat too made matters worse for Dhoni.

In the last 15 Tests he has made 784 runs at 35.63 with a hundred and six fifties. In normal circumstances that record is quite reasonable for a batsman who normally bats at number six or seven. But his failures in England, Australia and at Mumbai against England have sort of projected his travails with bat.

So, it was natural for many to feel that finally the pressures of captaincy have begun to affect the Jharkhand man. But Dhoni remained unfazed, and so characteristically of him fell into a rather thoughtful mood, speaking about sticking to the middle path.

“If you are leading the side for last three or four years, then you will be in a situation more often where you are under pressure or when the team easily wins a series. The good thing is you have seen both sides of the coin. The most important thing is then you have to be on the middle path.

“It is one of the most difficult things to do, especially in India. Here, the emotions flow around a lot. If the team does well, there is a lot of appreciation; if the team doesn’t do well, there is a lot of criticism. The bottom line is to stay in the middle,” he said.
But that’s easier said than done. How does Dhoni keep his cool and adjust to so much pressure?

“The good thing about wicket-keepers is that right from the very start, they have been the vice-captains, even if it is not official. They are the ones who do all the field settings. The captain always gives them the liberty to change fields depending on how the bowler is bowling or how the batsman is batting -- stumpers are more used to these things.

“But I don’t think it really affects your game a lot. It’s very important to back what your strength as an individual and not get bogged down.” Ah, case rested, then!
Then came the inevitable query about the pitch. Dhoni showed the same surefootedness to tackle those questions as well, fending the tricky ones with ease.

“It’s not about who wins the Test match, it’s about providing a different condition where all the teams want to do well. We lost the last game, but still we want to play on wickets that suit the subcontinent. So, we should stick to turning tracks.

It’s not like when Australia plays in Australia or when England play in England, they win all the games. Still, they stick to the kind of pitches they have got. It’s the same for subcontinent teams.”

Then once again Dhoni turned philosophical. “Winning and losing games is part and parcel of what we do. I don’t think cricketers get bothered a lot if they lose a game, or they aren’t really at the top of their emotions when they win a series or a game.” Who says Olympic spirit doesn’t have a place in cricket!

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