Straight after a photo shoot with Alastair Cook, Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked in nine feet tall in his pre-final media conference at the Edgbaston media centre here on Saturday afternoon. With an unshaven face, the Indian skipper sported a broad grin and showed no signs of pressure before the final of a major tournament.
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Winning is such a galvanizing factor. This Indian team at the Champions Trophy has done no wrong and whatever Dhoni touches is turning into gold. Supremely confident, Dhoni handles the media on his own terms. He hooks, he pulls and even switch hits questions. The "one-question-per-person" media code of conduct often sees incomplete answers and transcripts haven't always helped. (Read preview)
Many of Dhoni's answers in Saturday's press conference were difficult to fathom. Especially, one on England's poor record in ODI finals of global events and another one on whether the 1983 World Cup win at Lord's in the month of June inspires Team India.
Speaking on Sunday's Champions Trophy final, Dhoni was clear when he said there were no special plans against England here at Edgbaston. "We will go with the same approach like we did in the match against Pakistan and the semifinal (versus Sri Lanka)," said the Indian captain.
Saying that India have played very good cricket in the Champions Trophy so far, Dhoni added the team was relaxed and the only concern was the death bowling. "Death bowlers have been a concern. It's an area we need to improve as a team." (Also read: India favourites but time to change history, says Alastair Cook)
Dhoni admitted England's pace attack had the quality to test the best of batsmen.
"The English are a very good team, especially the bowlers. What we are excited about is the fact our top order has done well, and also the fact that they have played some of the best bowlers in world cricket so far in the tournament. So I think they are quite well prepared for the English bowlers, it's just that like in every game, you have to apply," Dhoni said. (The ODI story of Birmingham so far)
The Indian captain didn't read much into India's horrible English summer in 2011. India were whitewashed in both the Test and ODI series, but Dhoni doesn't want history to haunt the current team's mental preparation.
"Well, you go through ups and downs. I think what's important is to accept the fact that we didn't do really well in that series. We have done well in this series so let's think about that," Dhoni said. (Interesting factoids about Edgbaston)
Dhoni said India's ODI performance in 2011 was relatively better than the Tests and the team was hampered by injuries and the rain. "I lost all the tosses and every game it rained. We were supposed to operate with two spinners, and with the wet ball it became very difficult," Dhoni explained.
With rain threatening Sunday's final, Dhoni said the toss could become a factor but a lot will depend on the immediate conditions. "If it's bright and sunny, I don't think it will have that much of an impact, but if it's overcast and there is a bit of rain before the start of the game, then it may have an impact on the game. So I think as of now it's quite balanced. I don't think the toss will be very crucial," he said.
Dhoni said it was an important final from an Indian point of view. "We will have good support and we must play for the fans. It should be a good game for the spectators," the skipper said with a large grin.