“He’s pretty much captain cool as well, isn’t he? It’s not only [M.S.] Dhoni who’s captain cool,” grinned Pakistan coach Dave Whatmore, referring to skipper Misbah-ul-Haq.
Whatmore’s comment was in response to a question on how Misbah’s calm disposition complements a team that’s known to house combustible characters.
Misbah couldn’t resist a quip himself. “It’s part of my personality. I haven’t been working on it,” said the 38-year-old at the pre-match media interaction on the eve of the first ODI between India and Pakistan that’s set to take place on Sunday.
“It’s always good to play in India. It’s a thrilling atmosphere with people so passionate about cricket,” said Misbah, adding that an India-Pakistan series was bigger than the Ashes.
“I think there are more followers for this series when compared to the Ashes. Everyone can see from the way the two T20s were played how important these matches are for both teams. Such series should take place on a regular basis.”
Misbah also underscored the importance of fellow senior batsmen Younis Khan and Mohammad Hafeez. “Hafeez is very important to our plans. He’s confident and middling the ball well. Younis has always done well against India and his experience helps immensely.”
Later, Dhoni arrived for the press conference — journalists were requested not to pose queries irrelevant to the ongoing series — smiling broadly as he always does.
Was the cheerful countenance part of his natural self? “It’s quite natural when you know most the questions and the order in which they are asked,” said the Indian captain amid much laughter.
Dhoni chose not to read too much into the tense moments on the field during the T20 series. “The equation between both the teams is very good. We have made a conscious attempt not to cross boundaries.”
On the difficulties in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of some of the newer members of the team such as Parvinder Awana and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, he said it was part of an evolving process.
“We have got to rely on whatever information we are receiving. There’s no point giving them too much advice. With greater exposure, they will become better.”
Dhoni also acknowledged that playing in Chennai — being the captain of the IPL side, Chennai Super Kings — was ‘special’.
“It’s always been a very pleasant experience and we are expecting a good turnout tomorrow too. The crowd support has been terrific.”