You can count on M.S. Dhoni to not hurl a rash remark. Or say anything faintly earth-shattering. The pattern of his speech is all too familiar — the coarse, salty voice steering clear of emotion; a tendency to alternate between direct and tortuous answers, mostly the latter, and witty comeback lines.

“Nothing much changes. Your speciality remains a speciality,” were his opening words in the media conference on Tuesday after India clinched the first Test against Australia. The response was to a question on whether his outlook towards life had changed.

The Indian skipper also stuck to his pet philosophy of ‘staying in the present’ when asked about his reaction to criticism. “What really matters is the job I’m trying to do. The best thing I’ve done is not watch news or read newspapers.”

Describing the mindset during his dazzling double ton in the first innings, the Indian captain said, “This game was evenly poised and Nathan (Lyon) was bowling well. It was important to play a few big shots so that you could get rid of that extra catching fielder.”

Aussie media’s boycott

It’s a pity then that cricket fans in Australia haven’t been able to delight in the visual joys offered by Dhoni’s and Michael Clarke’s batting.

The Australian media has boycotted publication of images and videos from the India tour protesting against the BCCI’s decision to deny accreditation to a photo agency.

The Sydney Morning Herald, for instance, has been carrying artistic impressions in the place of photographs.

Lauding the Indian top order, Dhoni factored in the importance of batting time given the conditions. “Sachin (Tendulkar) didn’t get a 100, Pujara didn’t get a big 50, but they played for a considerable time. Chennai gets quite humid so it helps in getting the opposition bowlers tired. It was important we batted for four sessions.”

The 31-year-old opted to rate the importance of his knocks based on their impact rather than numbers. “I don’t have many big innings so it’s slightly easy to choose… but at the same time it’s difficult because I don’t have many. I feel the 70 [76 n.o.] at Lord’s in 2007 was very special because it helped us win the series. It’s the weightage of the innings that matters.”

Was he reminded of his run-out on 99 at Nagpur against England when he was approaching his century here?

“I’ve got five 90s, so it doesn’t weigh any more.”

Currently at No. 6

Dhoni said he would be slotted in at No. 6 until Ravindra Jadeja came to grips with Test cricket. On further being prodded if the quest for a genuine No. 6 was compromised, his evasive side surfaced with the help of an analogy: “To dig a well, you have to dig the first foot first… you cannot start with the 50th foot.”

On Australia’s performance, he felt the team played to its strength, pointing out that it had a good batting unit.

Quote of the day

Dhoni’s quip of the day came towards the end when he was asked if he would dedicate his double hundred to anyone? “No, I will keep it to myself,” he smiled.


As always, spin has final say at Chepauk February 26, 2013

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