Dhoni asks players to focus on SL series and not World T20

Jul 21, 2012, 08:52 IST | PA Sport

MS Dhoni asks teammates to focus on current ODI series against Sri Lanka rather than World T20 which will also be played in the island country

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni wants his side to focus on the one-day international series in Sri Lanka rather than the upcoming World Twenty20 there. It is only two months until the fourth edition of the tournament gets under way in Sri Lanka but first up, India face a five-match ODI series against the hosts, starting today at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota. The Sooriyawewa venue will be used for the World Twenty20 — a competition that Dhoni does not believe should prove a distraction. “I think what is important is to be in the present, which means take this series into account, not to think too much ahead about the World Twenty20,” he said.

Skipper MS Dhoni inspects the pitch during a practice session at Hambantota yesterday. Pic/AFP

“The good thing is most of the players who are part of this side will also be part of the T20 side. “They have played lots of games in Sri Lanka so we don’t really need to think ahead in time.” India will be looking for a winning start to the series, but will face a tough challenge against in-form Sri Lanka. While Dhoni’s side have not been in action since facing South Africa in March, the hosts have recently beaten Pakistan at home in both ODIs and Tests.

“Both the sides have improved a lot in the five to six years,” Dhoni said. “We have got new players that are part of the side, not only for us but Sri Lanka also. “The good thing is we are constantly improving ourselves and Sri Lanka is a very good side. “They play fierce cricket. We play cricket at an aggressive level and playing a lot with good competition helps us improve at the same time.”

Sri Lanka are hoping to use the series as a catalyst to home success in the World Twenty20 and captain Mahela Jayawardene wants his side can continue the form they showed against Pakistan. “We have just finished a series against Pakistan successfully and what is important is to continue with the good work,” he said. “We have to work hard to reach the goals we want to attain.

“We have brought in a few new players for the ODI side, and we have to think about the World T20 and which of these players will be suitable for that competition.” The series will not feature the Decision Review System (DRS) due to India’s protestations, according to Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga.

“As per the ICC guidelines, both teams have got to agree in having the DRS,” Ranatunga said. “As far as the Indian board is concerned they are not in favour of that. That was a decision taken at ICC level.” 

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