Dhoni focussed on wicket keeper job

Published: Sunday, June 5, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Kolkata:He may have caught the attention of cricket fraternity the world-over for his scintillating 148 against Pakistan, but young Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows he got the national call-up primarly for his wicketkeeping.

Ahead of the new season, Dhoni is busy focussing on his job behind the stumps to cement his place in the Indian team.

"I think keeping is more important. I have to keep well to cement my place in the Indian team. Batting may be a strong point for me, but primarily I am a wicketkeeper," the Jharkhand-based cricketer told PTI in an interview here today.

Dhoni said it was aways a challenge to keep up to spinners on the sub-continent wicket.

"We have quality spinners in the sub-continet who can really turn the ball. And so I am now concentrating more on the wicket-keeping aspect. I am practising hard," said Dhoni, who turns 25 next month.

Dhoni said that 'keeping to leg-spinner Anil Kumble was one of the most difficult assignments.

"He bowls fast and generates a lot of bounce. But I think he is at his toughest in Tests. It will be highly interesting to stand behind the stumps to Kumble in Tests," Dhoni, who is yet make his debut in the longer version of the game, said.

Dhoni said that it has been his dream to have a stint in English county cricket, though he did not have any offer yet.

"County cricket is tough. Considering that the ball does swing a lot given a chance I would love to play county cricket. It will help me mature as an international cricketer," he said.

On whether he has set any goal for himself in the coming season, Dhoni said "I would just like to perform both behind the wicket and before it. As a willower I would try to prove my mettle in whichever position I am asked to bat, be it at number one, three or seven."

Called fondly by his friends as Mahi, Dhoni said that the innings of 148 against Pakistan in Vishakapatnam had given him a lot of confidence.

"You cannot perform in the international level if you don't have confidence in yourself. That hundred came in hot and humid conditions. More importantly I was given an opportunity to bat at number three in conditions not suitable for bowlers. I think I made the best of it."

Emerging into the international scene late last year from a state, not known for its cricketing tradition, Dhoni has already established himself as a clinical destroyer of bowling attacks and boasts of an astronomically high strike rate of 97.90 in nine ODIs.

Giving due credit to Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly for his success at Vishakapatnam, which was only his fifth one-dayer, Dhoni said "Sourav is one captain who really eggs on newcomers. Before Visakhapatnam he had been telling me time and again that very soon I will have to go at number three. This helped me a lot as I was mentally prepared."

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