Dhoni seeking cathartic win
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will attempt to lift India’s spirits following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai by delivering another dominant performance in the first Test against England.
The whole of India has been in mourning since the events of November 26, when terrorists killed over 180 people in attacks on several of Mumbai’s leading landmarks, including the famous Taj Mahal Palace hotel where England had been based two weeks previously.
England have pledged to give half their match fees for tomorrow’s opening Test - around £35,000 - to help those affected by the incidents but Dhoni believes the best way for his side to help India is to win this first international match since the attacks.
“It was good on England’s part to come for the Test series, but it doesn’t really bother us - we need to concentrate on the areas where we need to do well,” said Dhoni.
“As an Indian I am grateful to them for coming, but we’re not really concentrating too much on that because we have an important series to play and the best we can do for India right now is to win this game of cricket - that is what we are here to do as professional cricketers.”
Mumbai resident Sachin Tendulkar, whose restaurant is situated just around the corner from the Taj Palace hotel, has already admitted to being “haunted” by the attacks and Dhoni knows the experience has affected his squad.
They all returned to their families in the immediate aftermath while England returned home to consider the security implications of resuming the tour, which they decided to do after a training camp in Abu Dhabi.
“We had time with our families and that was the only good part about it,” said Dhoni. “We were very sad about the incidents so the only good thing was we had time to spend with our families.
“We were not really thinking about cricket at that point in time because we were so sad about what happened. We were glued to the television and during that 70 hours I barely slept six hours in total.
“It is really tough to play now but the one good thing that happened was that we did not continue with the one-dayers. That was too close and emotions were low so it was good we didn’t play them.”
One implication for both teams of the attacks has been the increased security presence of armed guards throughout the MA Chidambaram Stadium, which has restricted access to spectators who would normally pour in to watch training.
But Dhoni does not believe their presence will distract India from building on the momentum gained by beating Australia in their last Test series and hammering England in the recent one-day series.
“That’s one area where as cricketers and as a team we don’t have any control over,” he admitted. “We don’t control our security but the one thing we can control is being calm and composed and look after our cricket and preparation and our plans for the series.
“The amount of policemen around is nothing to do with us, we need to concentrate on the cricket. They are around to help us so it doesn’t really bother us too much.
“England have had time off in between the two series and they must have planned a few things. We need to start from scratch again and we need to do the things we have done well in the one-day series and continue with them.”