From satire to slapstick punch-lines, vague analogies and subtle barbs, there’s a lot which you can expect at a Mahendra Singh Dhoni press conference. History lessons doesn’t feature in Dhoni’s routine. But it was not the first time, that the Indian captain had a surprise kept in store on Saturday.
He accurately exclaimed to everyone present that the last time India played a five match Test series in England was in the year 1959. It’s taken England 55 years to invite the Indians back for a full-fledged Test tussle.
As India return to England for a path-breaking tour, being routed is a feeling that Dhoni unfortunately very much familiar. It’s a bitter remembrance of the two 4-0 thrashings of 2011 which still remain fresh, but India have also not won a Test outside the subcontinent since they have won against West Indies at Jamaica back in June of that year.
“When you go through tough times, you tend to forget the stats and numbers. In 2011, those two series is just remembered but there were plenty of things going around. I can still recall in England in 2011, we had close to eight or nine injuries and that hurt us badly. It started with the very first day,” Dhoni said on the eve of the team’s departure to England.
He quickly added that he would prefer to focus on the immediate past, of his present team’s impressive performance against South Africa and New Zealand despite the lack of victories on both tours.
“We were in situations where we could have easily won the games but we didn’t. It happened both in South Africa and New Zealand. We were lacking of being able to close the games but still it was a good effort by the bowlers. That boost us the confidence that we can win games,” he said on his referrals to the games at Johannesburg and Wellington, where the visitors dominated play for most periods and came very much close to winning.
By leaving early, for almost three weeks before their first Test at Nottingham, Indians are also set to have an unprecedented period of preparation, which would help them to get used to the conditions in lieu of their lengthy and packed schedule.
While Gautam Gambhir, who is considerd as the reserve opener, has played three Tests to his credit on English soil, Dhoni will start the tour as the main and most experienced batsman on English soil. And he also revealed his plans about improving his recent run of low scores and dip in form away from the subcontinent in non-coloured clothing.
“I’ve realized that I play lot better when I am aggressive, than when I try to play like a proper batsman. To me I think I should play my shots, regardless of whether it’s the first over or the last over,” he explained.
Coach Duncan Fletcher was his pragmatic self, and insisted that despite of losing Kevin Pietersen, England remained a tough unit and will be difficult to beat. Even if they were also a team in a rebuilding stage, like India is at present. He should know. After all it was the unflappable Zimbabwean, who had resurrected England cricket and its fortunes back at the turn of the century.
Eventually, it was Dhoni who got the final word as always, underplaying the team’s expectations, insisting that the recent trend of results had been all about teams desperation to win at home, and trying their level best to overcome the challenges in abroad also, showing that his grasp over recent history wasn’t all that bad. Dhoni is all set for the series, he and his boys are ready to perform forgetting their past misfortunes.