Dhoni rubbishes rift with deputy Sehwag

Team spirit is as good as it has ever been, clarifies Indian skipper

Even the ICC media manager looked somewhat amused, and Dhoni soon ended the suspense. The skipper read out a written statement on behalf of the team denying any rift between him and Virender Sehwag as was reported in a section the media.

Meanwhile, the rest of the players and support staff remained in a tight huddle behind him, as if to present a picture of unity.

“This message is for the people of India from the Indian cricket team. As we prepare for the Twenty20 World Championship, we are a superbly unified team. The team spirit is as good as it has ever been with each individual supporting each other on and off the field. Reports in the Indian media about a rift between myself and Sehwag amount to nothing but false and irresponsible media,” Dhoni read.

“Our fans and supporters can take confidence from the wonderful unity that continues to exist in this team. We thank our fans for their continued support and look forward to entertaining you during this tournament, which we go into well-prepared, unified as Team India and confident,” Dhoni finished and quickly walked away along with the players.

However, confusion prevailed over whether someone from the Indian camp would address the customary pre-match press do, and coach Gary Kirsten did the mandatory job after nearly 30 minutes.

It was understandable that unusual happenings dominated Kirsten’s interaction with the press. “It's a huge positive to say that we stand together as a team,” the South African said. “When we get accused of infighting, it hurts us. That doesn't happen in this team. Certainly in my time it has never happened.

“We wanted to send a message across that this team is really unified.”

Kirsten said the decision to make public their solidarity was a collective one. “There were individuals who felt that something needed to be done and said. It was a collective decision to show to the Indian people our team unity if they had any doubt that there was infighting in this team. We wanted to show the Indian people that we are together because a certain section of the media hasn't projected it that way.”

The coach took it upon himself to remind media of its duty. “The players get on with what they need to do. The players understand that there is a place for the media. At the same time, I think there is a responsibility on both sides. We play positive cricket and try and win games. From the media's side, it is important that they report responsibly. If some statement has been made that there's been infighting, it's not true, it's irresponsible,” he said.

Kirsten admitted the risk of this episode affecting the focus of Indian team, but was quick to add that his wards had been preparing well to hurdle over such issues.

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