Dhoni cautions teammates not to get carried away by the hype

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has cautioned his teammates not to get carried away by the excessive hype ahead of their World Cup final against Sri Lanka and stick to their basic job of playing "good cricket".

Updated: March 31, 2011 15:19 IST
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Boston: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has cautioned his teammates not to get carried away by the excessive hype ahead of their World Cup final against Sri Lanka and stick to their basic job of playing "good cricket".

India's semi-final match against arch rivals Pakistan was billed as the "mother of all clashes" and generated tremendous media frenzy and the 29-run victory triggered passionate celebrations across the country.

"There'll be plenty of things happening around us, like in this game, but what's important is not to get distracted. We all know what our jobs are as professional cricketers so we'll stick to that and try to play good cricket," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference in Mohali.

"The Sri Lankans have a good side and they have done really well in the tournament. We have to play good cricket to beat them. We have to be at our best", he said.

Dhoni said the format of the tournament had helped his team and the young players were slowly coming into the groove.

"The format's really helped us. We had quite a few close games where the youngsters were really tested at the crease. I think slowly they're getting into the groove. That will hold the team in good stead," he said.

On being asked about how he planned to motivate his team for the summit showdown, Dhoni said "You do not need to motivate, it is not required when you are representing your country. We are playing the World Cup and we all want to win it." Dhoni admitted that he had "misread" the pitch and that was one of the reasons why spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was left out.

Dhoni said the track was not a typical Mohali wicket which generally assist the quickies and he had opted to include pacer Ashish Nehra to give the team more bowling options.

"We misread the wicket. It was not a normal Mohali track. It usually does not help the spinner, but it did today. Our spinners really bowled very well and that really put pressure on them," he said.

"Pakistan players play spin very well, that is why we thought to go with a 3-2 combination. We felt it was a safer option, since we have part-timers such as Sachin (Tendulkar), virat (Kohli) and Raina."

After a blazing start, India could manage 260 for nine after winning the toss and Dhoni said it was a good score though not a safe one.

"I felt after the end of the first innings 260 was a good score, I wouldn't say it was a safe score because it was important not to give away too many runs with the new ball," he said.

Dhoni said that the spirit and unity displayed by his team has been one of the highlights of the tournament.

"The team unity has been one of the highlights. We are backing each other and not criticising any player and that really counts. If somebody is having a bad time on the field we are making sure he is wanted and everybody is helping each other," he said.

"I'm proud of the side that I've got. You can see a definite difference between the fielding we did back in a few series and now.

"They're giving more than 100 percent for the World Cup. You can't always control the result but you can always control the amount of effort you put in so that's what's in our hands and that's what we're doing," he said.

Man of the match Sachin Tendulkar was the highest scorer for India and Dhoni said the senior batsman batted really well and guided the innings.

"I think he batted really well and when he's there he makes it really easy for the others to score because he guides them really well, he said.

"If you bat with Sachin for 15 games you have the kind of experience you'd have after 50 games."

On Nehra's wonderful performance in the match, Dhoni said he selects the playing XI considering the pitch conditions and it was great to see Nehra justify his selection.

"He was criticised for his performance the last time he played, so it was a good comeback. Being criticised is part and parcel of a cricketer's life," he said.

Harbhajan Singh has not been at his peak form right through the tournament but Dhoni defended the off spinner saying every cricketer goes through a lean patch.

Asked whether the team management would consider re-drawing their strategy considering Harbhajan's poor form, the Indian captain said, "We have done well with bits and pieces contributions from everyone. We will manage in the final also."

Amid all the hullabaloo, one concern that remains is Dhoni's own batting form. The right handed batsman scored just 25 against Pakistan to total 150 at an average of 30 in the World Cup so far.

"I've not scored too many runs, but at the same time more often than not when you walk into bat you're under pressure with four or five batsmen down. Hopefully the final will be better," said Dhoni.

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