Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dhoni urges team to stay in line

Mahendra Singh Dhoni isn't daunted by the prospect of playing the Twenty20 international in front of 90,000 spectators at the MCG...

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's captain in the limited-over formats, has urged his team-mates to respect the international guidelines for on-field behaviour in the wake of the Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds controversy. He said there would be some allowance for "chit-chat" between players as long as there was nothing untoward being uttered.

"Whoever the players are, they know the international guidelines that are set out to be followed," he said, when asked about the importance of player behaviour in the forthcoming limited-over games. "Each and every player should respect it. It is the responsibility of an individual more than their skipper to know the limitations and to know where they stand."

It was reported that the Australian players were unhappy over Harbhajan's reprieve, given that he had been handed a three-match ban in the first hearing. Dhoni would also remember the World Twenty20 match in Durban last year, a match that marked the start of the fractious relationship between the two sides.

"We don't really care about whatever has happened so far," he said a day before the Twenty20 international in Melbourne. "It's a fresh start and we're going to play some good cricket. There's always chit-chat going on between the players. If nothing controversial is said, I think both the teams will be happy with it. We can't just shut up and play. It's cricket and you've got to do lots of things with the bat and the ball and there should be chit-chat out on the ground."

Dhoni preferred that contentious catches be referred to the third umpire, a procedure which was used in the final two Tests of the series. Before the first Test in Melbourne, Anil Kumble and Ricky Ponting had agreed to take the fielders word but reviewed the pact after the controversial Sydney Test. "I believe in referring it to the third umpire," Dhoni said. "A fielder can mislead so it's important that it's referred to the third umpire."

Was he expecting a hostile reception from a crowd that's expected to be close to 90,000? "If they are not on the field it does not really matter," he said. "We don't care whether we receive a hostile reception or not. In Eden Gardens there are 100,000 spectators, in Kochi there are 80,000 spectators. Still, this is a huge ground and playing in front of such numbers would be exciting."