London: For the first time ever since the Indian Premier League controversies broke out around betting, spot-fixing and conflict of interest, Mahendra Singh Dhoni lowered his guard a bit on Monday as the travelling Indian media looked for answers to the team's cagey ways in the United Kingdom. (Read: Our IPL stars will share Indian secrets, says West Indies coach Ottis Gibson)
With direct questions on 'controversies' banned by the Indian team's media manager Dr Baba, the Press has been trying to bowl 'doosras' at Dhoni but with very little effect. On Monday morning when Dhoni HAD to attend a mandatory ICC press conference ahead of Tuesday's Champions Trophy match against the West Indies, the media once again made an indirect query on how the team was keeping focus in spite of the tumultuous IPL/BCCI events back in India. This time, Captain Cool was a little obliging. (Read: ICC suspends Denesh Ramdin for two ODIs)
"Well, we don't get to read any newspapers and there is no Indian television, so whatever is happening back home is happening back home. We are just really doing our practice sessions and we're doing the best we can. As players we can only control the things we are able to" Dhoni said. (See: Team India's practice pics ahead of West Indies clash)
For the first time in four days, the Indians trained outdoors. It was an overcast and nippy morning on Monday and India practised on three side wickets, very close to the main square. Dhoni said the cloudy conditions are tempting to play four seamers, but "we will not go that way because the result can go against us and then I will be blamed." (See: Candid shots beyond the boundary - pics galley from London)
Dhoni reckons the Oval wicket will assist spin and 'thinking' off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will have a role to play for sure. Between Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina, the spinners bowled 21 overs among themselves in the first match against South Africa in Cardiff. India won by 26 runs with pacer Umesh Yadav taking 2 for 75.
"This Oval wicket is a used one. There is a bit of grass and there will be a bit of bounce too. The fast bowlers will get some assist but since this is an old wicket, there will be spin as well," Dhoni said.
The Indian skipper singled out Chris Gayle as the dangerman in the West Indian camp. "We have to take him out before he takes us out. The Gayle factor will always be there. He is a dangerous individual and we will have to get him early," Dhoni said.
Saying the match against the West Indies will be "interesting," the Indian skipper felt the team that adapts best to the conditions will prevail. "You need some basic planning but you need to adapt along the way," Dhoni added.
Dhoni indicated Yadav will play a key role in Tuesday's game. "But he has to think better and learn a lot. With exposure he will get better and that's what international cricket is all about," the skipper said. Yadav conceded 75 runs in his 10 overs and although he bowled with lot venom, he failed to bowled tighter overs.