Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Omerta: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India maintain silence

India and CSK teammates MS Dhoni and R Ashwin during a practice session in Dhaka on Thursday. India face Bangladesh on Friday. (AP) India and CSK teammates MS Dhoni and R Ashwin during a practice session in Dhaka on Thursday. India face Bangladesh on Friday. (AP)
Written by Nihal Koshie | Mirpur | Posted: March 28, 2014 2:46 am | Updated: March 28, 2014 4:51 pm

Mahendra Singh Dhoni played football, batted in the nets, participated in a fielding drill and even playfully knocked over Yuvraj Singh at the end of India’s practice session on Thursday.

A couple of hours after the Supreme Court proposed the suspension of the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals from the IPL and heard that MS Dhoni had tried to mislead the Mudgal committee about the role of team official Gurunath Meiyappan, the Indian team trained at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on the eve of their Super-10 match against Bangladesh.

Dhoni, predictably, skipped the pre-match media briefing. It is not mandatory for captains to address the media before and after a match, but the decision to send Rohit Sharma helped Dhoni avoid commenting — or giving a straight-faced “no comments” remark — on an issue that is taboo when players speak on record.

Skipper skips PC

There are seven CSK or RR players in the India squad, but Sharma, who plays for the Mumbai Indians, is not one of them. By presenting him before the media, the team management sought to ensure that the focus remained only on the World T20. And away from the skipper who had his integrity questioned by the country’s apex court.

These discussions are, of course, heavily moderated. Questions are typically restricted to the World T20, or the press is informed that the captain is not required to be present at interactions unless India loses, and so on.

It didn’t make Sharma’s task much easier, though, as he had to field some tough questions from the media. It was a foreign journalist who tried to get Sharma to talk on the controversy brewing back at home. “It’s important for us to focus as we have a big job on our hands right now. When we came here, we were determined to win the tournament.

We won two out of two games, which is a good sign and tomorrow is another crucial game for us. At the moment, focus is on tomorrow’s game which is important for us to win,” Sharma deadpanned.

A couple of minutes later, a similar question was posed. “How frustrating is what is going back home in the IPL. Have the players discussed this?”.

“Not at all,” he replied. “As I said, before, focus is on World T20, it’s an important tournament for us. We have a big job to do tomorrow and we are focused on that. Not at all (do we discuss the IPL controversy),” Rohit said again.

There were a few cricketing questions — some pertinent, some banal — before the subject resurfaced. But Sharma played with a straight bat each time.

This was not too different from when Dhoni, who had appeared for continued…

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