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No fear of failure, says Dhoni

August 07, 2007 21:04 IST

India's newly-appointed Twenty20 captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday stressed that there is no pressure on him even though he has no experience in leading a team.

"It doesn't really matter. I never had the experience of playing at the international level when I played my first match. These are things you see and learn from the senior players and from the challenges that they are facing in a match.

"If you are open-minded and eager to learn then you can learn a lot from them, from the senior guys, from the captains and from the very successful captains in international cricket," he told reporters at the Brit Oval in London on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old from Ranchi became a huge hit for his swashbuckling batting and flowing locks since making his international debut in December 2004.

Even though he is better known for his ability to hit smashing boundaries and towering sixes, he has time and again shown composure and maturity by adjusting his batting to the situation of the game.

The first Test at Lord's was testimony to the fact, when he displayed some intelligent batting to keep the last man away from the strike, something that proved vital in the final analysis as India escaped with a draw.

Dhoni said there is no fear of failure and he intends to learn from the new experience.

"Not really. I don't really think a lot on the negative aspects because it'll not push me forward. I am looking forward to it as a positive challenge. And I don't think it is about the captaincy or the captain because it is a team game and whatever decisions I take and whether it is successful or not depends on the other player. If I promote someone to bat at No 3, I'm the person who just takes the decision. But in turn the player who has been sent to perform at No 3, if he performs, then that is a good decision; if he doesn't it is a bad decision," he said.

He added that he is not looking forward to captaincy but just giving his best every time he plays in the middle.

"I always wanted to play good, aggressive cricket and do well for my country. I think it is not about leading, it is about playing and doing well for your country," Dhoni said.

India has opted for a new-look team for the Twenty20 World Cup, to be played in South Africa next month. The senior trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are missing, which means Dhoni will no have seniors by his side to consult in crisis.

But he is not too worried about missing their experience and feels the assistant coaches, Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad, are good enough support base for the young team.

"We have Robin Singh, Venkatesh Prasad; we will be having an ex-cricketer as cricket manager if not the coach. If you see experience-wise we have Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Ajit Agarkar. So it is not that we are totally lacking in anything. We have players who have played over 100 international matches. Their experience will count. In turn, if you see the players that have been chosen, they have played two or three years of first class cricket at least.

"So they themselves know what the challenges are what are the things they will face. It will be more about channelising them, giving them a positive boost that they need at the international level," he said.

Asked what he learnt from Dravid's captaincy, he popped a quick reply: "Being calm and cool."

Since making his debut around three years back, Dhoni has played 19 Tests and 76 ODIs. Asked whether he is ready to captain a side so early in his career, he replied: "Till the time I go on to the field and till I captain the side, I can say that I'm well prepared. But the challenge is to take the right decision at the right time. Sometimes you are the captain for five or ten matches but you don't really have that perfect situation when you have to decide that one decision matters for the game."

India enter into the tournament with not much experience of the new format, having played just one Twenty20 international, against South Africa last year.

"It is not about too much; we've just played one, so it is not even two. It is challenging. The only good thing is that we had a domestic Twenty20 tournament in India this year. The players have done very well. It's more about the individuals who would come out and give their best at the international level. The time that we played Twenty20 cricket in India the wickets were quite flat. But when we'll go to South Africa we'll find the conditions very different, in the sense like it is just the start of the season so it will do a bit. It'll not be as easy; there will be different challenges on the way. Maybe, sometimes you need to plan and adopt," Dhoni said.

Along with Dhoni, it is also a triumph for his state Jharkhand, which has never produced an international star of such huge repute.

"It is a pleasure leading your country, especially when you are just over three years old in international cricket. And that too you are coming from a state (Jharkand) that is not very renowned for cricket. Five years back nobody would have ever thought that somebody would play for India from this state. Now, if I look back, I am very glad and excited for the job and it gives me a lot of satisfaction. But the important thing is to go there, play well and lead the team from the front. I am like a brand ambassador for them, coming from a small state where the infrastructure isn't great for cricket.

The Indian wicketkeeper believes that the team has a good blend of youth and experience.

"It is a really good team, a mixture of youth and experience. There are a plenty of new and up and coming players and it is not only about playing the Twenty20 World Cup. It will give them an exposure, but they'll come to the dressing room and see how it feels to play for the country.

"Some of the guys struggle a lot with Sachin [Tendulkar], Sourav [Ganguly] and Rahul [Dravid] sitting around. Most of the time they are just seeing them because they have been their role models for the past 10-12 years. Most of us are of the same age group, so we'll mingle around well. That would give them the exposure as how to prepare for international cricket. But the key will be to enjoy the cricket," he said.

The Indian players had a good look at the Oval wicket and believe stroke-makers will enjoy themselves in the third Test.

"It looks like a bouncy track. It is a nice turn track for batting. Hopefully, the spinners will come into play," Dhoni said ahead of the Oval Test, starting on Thursday.

He also brushed off criticism leveled against the team for their lackluster showing in the drawn match against Sri Lanka A.

"You have to switch on and switch off. You cannot have the same intensity even during the rest days. A lot has been said about switching on and switching off during a game so three days was a good time for the fast bowlers especially if you see the amount of work they have been doing in the matches," he said.

As expected, there was a question from the English media on S Sreesanth's beamer and whether Dhoni felt it was deliberate.

"That was a yorker for me. A lot of us, not just the seniors, we are his colleagues and we go and have a chat with him. He is a tough guy, he plays good, aggressive cricket. Even I don't know if it was deliberate or slipped out of his hands; he is the only guy who knows. I'm glad he went and said sorry to Pietersen. But things like that should be avoided even if it was not intentional," he replied.

Harish Kotian in London