Friday 28 September 2007 

Dhoni Demands Focus Ahead Of Australia Series

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni told India to forget their Twenty20 World Cup triumph and refocus for the seven-match one-day series against Australia which starts with a day-nighter on Saturday (0900 GMT).

Dhoni was confident the return of batting stalwarts Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly would ease the pressure on him after steering a young side to Twenty20 glory in South Africa on Monday.

"There has not been much time to celebrate, we have to switch back on quickly," the wicketkeeper-batsman told reporters after nets on Friday.

"It's a big advantage to have the three players, wherever you turn you can look for help," added Dhoni, who was named skipper when Dravid quit after the tour of England ended this month.

"It is difficult to get back to the one-day frame of mind from Twenty20. It is in the past and we are playing the (one-day) world champions now."

India have struggled in one-dayers in the last year, losing to South Africa before being knocked out in the first round of the World Cup in the Caribbean.

The Indians were also beaten 4-3 in the one-day series in England.

Dhoni called for a balance between experience and youth, dismissing frenzied debate on whether members of the Twenty20 squad should be chosen to play ahead of the 34-year-old trio Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly.

Nine Twenty20 squad members are in the party for the first three games of the Australia series, including left-arm paceman Irfan Pathan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh who were dropped after the World Cup.

"Everyone is performing, which encourages healthy competition in the team," said Dhoni.

"Whoever is playing well deserves a place. It's about taking the pressure off the team."

Number two wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik was hit on the face in training but Dhoni said it was nothing serious.

© Reuters 2007.
By N.Ananthanarayanan

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