Mahindra Singh Dhoni plays down World Cup hype as hosts gear up for the big challenge

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  • Mahindra Singh Dhoni plays down World Cup hype as hosts gear up for the big challenge

Mahindra Singh Dhoni plays down World Cup hype as hosts gear up for the big challenge

Indian captain Mahindra Singh Dhoni has played down the hype surrounding the biggest tournament in international cricket, the ODI World Cup which is set to start on the 19th of this month. The Indians are the co-hosts along with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as they bid to become the first hosts outside Sri Lanka to win the coveted tournament.

Sri Lanka was actually hosts of only two games in the 1996 event after the West Indies and Australia forfeited their matches due to security concerns.

Such concerns are the farthest on Dhoni’s mind as the men in blue prepare for the tournament. Other than the opening game against Bangladesh at Dhaka the Indians would play all their matches at home.

The format of the tournament also favours the hosts who were knocked out of the last edition held in the West Indies in the very first round.

Dhoni spoke to the media during a training session, he stated that every international match was a pressure situation for his team as the game is the biggest passion in the country; he also mentioned the setback four years ago.

"A lot of hype is created around the World Cup but every series that the Indian team plays we have a lot of expectation," Dhoni said in Bangalore. "We are supposed to win the World Cup, the atmosphere was same in 2007, it won't be right to consider this as one of the final frontiers, it's one of the big tournaments, the team needs to do well, (but) it's always the process and preparation that will help us achieve success, not thinking about what's coming and how big the tournament is."

Dhoni also stated that the tournament was an extremely important one in his opinion as he thinks that the ODI format still has a lot to offer even after the global impact that the shortest format the cash rich T20 has made.

He played with the straight bat when asked about the importance of the tournament for the one-day format. "I'm a big fan of fifty-over cricket. That doesn't mean I don't like Twenty20s or Tests. It's a big stage, big fan following and everybody is looking forward to it."

The Indian team has been dealt a blow on the eve of the tournament as their relied opening bowler Praveen Kumar is ruled out due to an arm injury that he sustained during the recent series against South Africa. Kumar has been replaced by the animated Shiv Sreesanth who was until recently concentrating on playing music and singing after being axed from the original World Cup squad.

The rest of the team is camping in Bangalore where the hosts are set to play two warm up games. The matches would be taken as an opportunity for them to give a chance to all 15 members of the team and have them in the groove before the start of the main round of action.

Indians would be one of the favourites to play in the semi-finals of the event; they are going to take on England, South Africa, Bangladesh, the West Indies, the Netherlands and Ireland in the group games.

The Bangladeshis have stated that they are eying the Indian scalp after they defeated them in the last edition causing their exit in the first round of the tournament, the excitement meanwhile in palpable in both countries that are full of avid cricket fans for whom the game is as big as religion.