MS Dhoni says Team India not distracted by IPL 2012 spot-fixing controversy

MS Dhoni said the entire India squad was staying away from the ongoing controversy © AFP

London: Jun 11, 2013

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni insists that his Champions Trophy squad was not distracted by the spot-fixing row back home.

Indian cricket was thrown into chaos last month after three players, including recent Test fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, were arrested over allegations of spot-fixing during the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Two team officials, Gurunath Meiyappan of Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings, and Raj Kundra of the Rajasthan Royals, were also suspended from cricket-related activities for betting on matches.

Although the players and officials have denied any wrongdoing, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is busy taking measures to ensure the IPL does not lose further credibility.

Dhoni, preparing for Tuesday’s key Champions Trophy match at the Oval in London, said the entire squad was staying away from the ongoing controversy.

“We don’t read newspapers, so whatever is happening back home is happening back home,” he said. “We just practise and play to the best of our abilities.

“Those are things in our control and helps to improve our game.”

India have looked impressive so far in the tournament, beating South Africa by 26 runs in their first match in Cardiff after posting a commanding 331-7.

With the West Indies having defeated Pakistan by two wickets at the Oval, the winner on Tuesday is almost certain to take one of the two semi-final berths from group B.

India, the reigning World Cup champions, have won eight of their last 11 one-dayers against the West Indies over the past three years, but victory cannot be taken for granted.

Dhoni knows the bowlers will have to deliver against a line-up that includes match-winning batsmen like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard.

“The Gayle factor will always be there,” the Indian captain said. “He is an individual who has a big impact on the game. It’s always good to get him out early.

“With a new ball at either end, overcast conditions and a bit of help from the wicket, our fast bowlers will have a fair chance to get him.

“If you don’t get batsmen like Chris Gayle out early, most likely he will take you out of the game.”

Dhoni said the Oval pitch was the same on which the West Indies lost eight wickets while trying to surpass Pakistan’s 170, adding that the bowlers could dominate again.

“It has a bit of a grass covering and there was bounce in the last game, so fast bowlers will get help,” he said. “But since we are playing on a used wicket, the spinners could get some more turn.”

Dhoni said he was a huge fan of one-day cricket since it was a mix of Test and Twenty20 formats, but did not favour constant changes in rules.

“We are trying to make a one-dayer like a T20 game,” he said. “Too many changes can actually spoil the recipe at times.”

Recent rule changes include the posting of just four fielders outside the inner circle, encouraging batsmen to play big shots in the wide empty areas in the outfield.

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