LONDON // MS Dhoni insists he does not mind being described as a lucky captain, so long as his side keep winning.
Some observers have claimed he is a fortunate captain rather than necessarily a good one, but Dhoni says he is just happy to be here.
"As long as we are winning, I don't mind hearing that the captain is lucky," he said yesterday, on the eve of today's first Test against England at Lord's.
"I never thought I would play for India, or share the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar or the other legends of Indian cricket like Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman. If you told me that when I was 19 I would have told you that was a lie."
Despite his almost unblemished record as captain, and the fame and riches the game has brought him, Dhoni said Indian cricketers often struggle to enjoy their successes because of the attendant pressures on them.
"What we really emphasise is enjoying the game," he said. "Cricket is a sport which you play to enjoy and more often than not when you are part of the Indian cricket team you are not really able to do that because of the hype which surrounds cricket.
"Given the amount of people that watch cricket and the amount of opinions that float around, more often than not when we turn up on the field we are expected to win each and every game, even though we know that is not really possible.
"We don't focus too much on the result because at international level most of the teams are very good, which means often you will be beaten irrespective of the potential you have as a team. You can still be outplayed.
"Trying to keep it simple is very important, especially when you carry the expectations of 1.2 billion people."
Andrew Strauss, the England captain, said his side's performance will not be inhibited by the hype surrounding a series which pits his Ashes winners against the No 1 ranked team in Test cricket.
India will surrender their position at the top of the Test rankings if their hosts win the series by two clear Test matches.
The fact it is the 100th Test between the two sides, and the 2,000th in the history of the format, has also added intrigue to the series, but Strauss said that his side will not be distracted by numbers.
"To be No 1 is relative to what other sides are doing," said Strauss, who prepared for the series by scoring a half-century and then a hundred in a one off warm-up match for Somerset against the Indians.
"Over the past two years, I don't think there is a side who has been better than us. We have won seven out of eight series, with the other drawn.
"But this is a new challenge to us. Our ultimate goal over the long term is not just to be the side on the rankings who are No 1, but to be the side which everyone generally agrees is the best side in the world. That is still a long-term goal, and nothing changes whether we win or lose this series."
England Alistair Cook, Andrew Strauss (c), Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Spencer Prior (wk), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Chris Tremlett James Anderson.
India Gautam Gambhir, Abhinav Mukund, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj, MS Dhoni (c, wk), Harbhajan, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma
* There will be no reviews of lbw decisions during the England versus India series, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said yesterday.
Indian concerns over the reliability of ball-tracking technology meant the ICC was unable to get universal adoption of the full decision review system (DRS) for all international matches.
This means there will be no Hawkeye predictive tracking system for lbws in the four-Test and five-match one-day series. However, “hot spot” imaging technology and stump microphones will be able to assist the umpires on catches.
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said he was disappointed not to have ball tracking technology but pleased there would be the minimum DRS.