It'll be a test of character, says unruffled Dhoni

There was an eerie calmness about Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday, while sitting behind the mike to complete the pre-match press formalities.

He seemed to be unaware of the raging storm around the Indian team after two successive Test defeats against England.

There were comments flying around about Mohinder Amarnath’s statement that Dhoni is in the job because of Board president N Srinvasan’s backing while another report said Dhoni had complaint to BCCI about Gautam Gambhir’s attitude.

But Dhoni’s face deceived no emotions, and if anything, there was only nonchalance, and it reflected in his answer to a query related to the spirit of the side after two defeats in a row. “The spirit is really good, that’s something we have maintained really well. In tough times, the people who will really support you are your team members and the support staff. And the good things is that we are enjoying ourselves,” Dhoni elaborated.

He didn’t have too many doubts that this is the time India need to show a lot of character. “This sort of situation comes very rarely for the team. I won’t say it’s a good situation to be in, but it’s a good test of our character. In a way it’s good that we are in a situation like this where we have nowhere to go,” he said.

At present, there wouldn’t be a man more under fire than Dhoni after losing 10 Tests in a span of  close to one-and-a-half year, but he faced a question about his position in the side with the same equanimity.

“It’s a most important Test not just as captain, but as an individual too. I’ll play till I am enjoying myself. Right now I am.”

Then he veered on to the pressure cricketers face in India. “Cricket is a sport that is followed in a big way, the fan following is big, and everyone has an opinion on everything that goes on. In cricket, there are always a lot of questions. So, we are under the microscope throughout our lives.”

Former India skipper and Dhoni’s team-mate not so long ago Rahul Dravid, and Krishnamachari Srikkanth, former selection panel chairman and a great Dhoni supporter till recently, voiced their concern over the talent in Indian team and Dhoni’s right to remain as skipper respectively.

The Jharkhand man answered in a rather firm manner. “The good thing or the bad thing is that everybody asks questions, but nobody comes up with a solution. That’s the brilliant part of it. As ex-cricketers, we respect their opinion. But we have our own problems to solve.”

“When people appreciate me a lot, I don’t go to seventh heaven and it’s the same when people criticise me. We have extreme opinions here. I always say that we should be somewhere in the middle. I have been quite good at maintaining that.”

Then there was an impassioned plea to support the team when it goes through a rough patch.

“We have struggled in the last two Test matches. This might happen in the future too, we might lose two Tests and then you will say that all these youngsters should go out and new set should come in. You have to keep faith in them. People who have done so much for Indian cricket should not be judged on a series or a couple of series or on half a season.”

Among all these, someone had the humour to remind Dhoni about Yuvraj’s birthday. “I wish him a very happy birthday.”

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