As he has often been reminded, M.S. Dhoni’s collection of titles as captain does not include the Champions Trophy. The World Cup and the World T20 are in there but not this one.
“None of these trophies go into my cabinet, you know,” he protested on Wednesday, on the eve of India’s tie with South Africa. “What you need to realise is that this is for Team India.”
The first step towards another piece of silverware here, Dhoni acknowledged, was to adapt to the new rules.
And the performances in the two warm-up matches have given the captain sufficient belief that the acclimatisation is going well.
“We didn’t get off to a good start, but it was nice to see our partnership in the middle,” he said. “The game can change a bit with the introduction of the new laws: the two new balls and also the one extra fielder inside the rest of the oval, which means that even if you have a wicket in hand, you can really exploit the conditions and get a lot of runs.”
Dinesh Karthik was the principal architect of that middle-order revival.
“He’s a good runner and he reads the situation pretty well; he’s someone who can look to go on and play a big innings,” Dhoni said of him.
“In the last couple of years I’ve always stressed that players need to bat in a specialist position where they really suit themselves and the team.
“In the past, we have played a few players in different slots. [Karthik] is someone that should bat at four or five, three also; but, definitely, not someone who should bat at six or seven.”
His counterpart A.B. de Villiers admitted that India looked strong. “I’ve spent a lot of time with some of the individuals on the team (in the IPL) and they’re all wonderful players,” he said. “We’ll have to come out like a pack of wolves and have the one goal of winning the game.”