Trying to Stay Away From the Distractions: Dhoni

By Abhishek Roy  

Mohali, March 29 (IANS) Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni says the team is trying to keep away from all distractions ahead of the much-awaited World Cup semifinal against Pakistan here Wednesday.

Dhoni said at a news conference on the eve of the match that the hype surrounding the encounter had little effect on the team.

"We all know it's a big tournament and we have prepared a lot for it and it's better to take one game at a time. We are playing the semifinals but the most important thing is how you prepare yourself irrespective of what stage it is. I think one needs to prepare for every game in the same way and that is what we have been doing," he said.

The Indian captain said his players are aware of what is expected of them.

"We are not getting involved in any other thing and that is what is important. You need to know what you are expected to do and we are expected to play good cricket. It is not happening for the first time," he said.

Dhoni, who led India to the inaugural World Twenty20 triumph beating Pakistan, said they are trying to keep the pressure at bay.

"When you talk of the hype and pressure, one thing for sure -- either you are thinking about it or you are not thinking about it. I don't think it helps you perform. So what's not helping you perform needs to be kept away," he said.

Dhoni admitted he is wary of the Pakistani bowling attack.

"They have a very good attack, they have bowlers who can bowl quick and at the same time they have spinners who can bowl really well. They also have some part-timers who can contribute. Since they have a couple of bowling all-rounders in (Abdul) Razzaq and (Shahid) Afridi, it gives them the liberty to play with more than five bowlers," he said.

On Afridi, who is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 21 scalps, Dhoni said: "He has been bowling really well and if you see his performance you will find it really interesting. Especially the time he took to take the first 100 wickets and the second 100 wickets in ODIs."

Dhoni, who has scored only 154 runs from 10 matches in this World Cup, says he is happy the way he is batting.

"I feel that I have been batting quite well. Just that some of the situations have not been great to play flamboyant cricket. In a couple of innings where we were chasing, I wasn't able to bat freely. I think the last game (against Australia) was an ideal game where I could have scored more. But it doesn't always go according to your plan."

Dhoni refused to tag the Wednesday's match as the most crucial game of his career.

"I don't believe in comparisons. I have said that a few times before. Because in a cricketer's life, you will have instances where you will feel that this is the most important game. But as you move on in life and the longer you play, more often than not you forget how you feel before a big game. In 2007 (World Twenty20 final against Pakistan), I don't remember how I felt before the semifinal or the final."



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