Champions Trophy 2013: Any personal distractions, skipper? Dhoni replies with a 'smile'
The India skipper facing a media trial on his 'conflicting' role in a sports management company smartly avoided a query whether off-field events were distracting him ahead of the Champions Trophy opener versus South Africa.
It was a question that was on the lip of every journalist but the Board of Control for Cricket in India's alleged 'gag' order on skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni continues here in the United Kingdom. When Dhoni left Indian shores in the early hours on May 29, he fended off questions on Indian Premier League spot-fixing issues with a smile. He continues to do the same, still "waiting for the right time to speak out." (Read: India vs South Africa match preview)
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When asked 'if personal distractions' were affecting his preparation for the Champions Trophy opener against South Africa, a smiling Dhoni replied: "There are no distractions. We are focused on the tournament and concentrating on playing under the new rules." (Read: Champions Trophy players to surrender mobile phones before boarding team bus)
The Indian skipper is in the eye of a storm for an alleged conflict of interest. Media reports have alleged that he owns stake in a sports management company that manages at least two current Indian players. Rhiti Sports however in a release stated that Dhoni currently has no shares/stake in the company. Despite the controversy, however, the skipper's batting has shown no signs of tension. He is in great mood and his cool body language has reflected no signs of personal anxiety. (Read:Â Champions Trophy: We have enough intelligence on Indian players, says AB de Villiers)
Relatively, the Indian team manager Dr Baba seems to be in more discomfort than the skipper himself. Before every mandatory ICC media briefing that Dhoni attends, the Chennai-based medical specialistÂ ensures that there are no 'controversial' questions asked. These obviously mean queries on IPL spot-fixing, Chennai Super Kings ownership pattern and more recently, Dhoni's alleged role in the sports management firm. (See pics gallery: Sights of Cardiff - where India begin their campaign)
"What you need to realize is that as Team India we are not even thinking about (controversies) and they don't (even) cross our minds. What we are really looking forward is the challenge of adapting quickly to the playing conditions," said Dhoni. (Read: Karthik is the 'special one', says MS Dhoni)
Dhoni certainly has his charismatic ways. On and off-the-pitch, he remains calm and composed under pressure. He understand the media is hungry for answers, but Dr Baba has set the ground rules and the Indian skipper is happy with it.