x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Tendulkar and Kirsten are distractions India must guard against, admits Dhoni

There are plenty of issues that always surround the Indian cricket team. We are quite good at distracting ourselves from all the issues, says the captain.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni walks past journalists as he arrives in Bangalore, in cricket-crazy India.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni walks past journalists as he arrives in Bangalore, in cricket-crazy India.

BANGALORE // Speculation over the future of master batsman Sachin Tendulkar and coach Gary Kirsten are more distractions India will have to ignore if they are to lift the World Cup on home soil, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Thursday.

The February 19-April 2 showpiece event will be the Indian batting maestro's last World Cup, and it has hogged a major share of the limelight in the build-up to the event.

India's highly successful South African coach Kirsten will not renew his contract at the end of the tournament for personal reasons, a decision the board has said they will respect.

"The feeling is the same (in the team). What is important for the team is to concentrate more on the process and the preparation rather than think about all the other things," Dhoni told reporters.

"There are plenty of issues that always surround the Indian cricket team. We are quite good at distracting ourselves from all the issues.

"But the fact remains that it will be the last World Cup for Sachin and most likely it will be the last tournament for Gary Kirsten as India's coach."

The wicket-keeper batsman rued the absence of paceman Praveen Kumar due to injury and said India will miss the "street-smart" cricketer.

"It is unfortunate that Praveen had to miss the World Cup. He has featured consistently in the ODI format for us," Dhoni said.

"He has done very well for us in all formats. We will miss him. He has been a street-smart cricketer for us.

"But you can't really restrict injuries from happening to the cricketers."

The Indian captain though was happy with the balance of his squad. "We have got some very experienced players in the side," he stressed. "Most of the players have played over 5-7 years of (international) cricket at least. That's a very good sign.

"At the same time you have got very talented youngsters who can really change the course of the game."

The captain said there were no other injury concerns even though Virender Sehwag (shoulder) and Gautam Gambhir (hand) did not figure in the one-dayers in South Africa while Sachin Tendulkar (hamstring) returned home midway through the five-match series.