Dhoni stays in the zone at optional nets

The World Cup-winning captain didn't for once look perturbed by his omission and went about his business without much ado.

Cutting the noise and focusing on his game seemed to be Dhoni's only motive during the optional nets on Sunday.   -  PRASHANT NAKWE

As M.S. Dhoni walked out of the dressing room on Sunday afternoon, there was a huge cheer from the stands at the Cricket Club of India (CCI).

It was an optional practice session for the Indian team, and Dhoni was one of the six players slugging it out ahead of the fourth ODI against the West Indies on Monday. The former Indian skipper was accompanied by the team’s physical trainer, Shanker Basu.

Dhoni's form with the bat has been a major concern for the team, especially with the World Cup in England barely eight months away. In the on-going series, the wicketkeeper-batsman has managed a meagre 27 runs in three games.

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Dhoni usually acknowledges the crowd's applause but today was different. Not for a moment did he turn towards the gallery. He padded up immediately and faced the bowlers for over 45 minutes. He also had a brief chat with batting coach Sanjay Bangar and the duo had a quick word with the groundsmen too.

Even though the CCI hasn’t hosted an international fixture for more than a decade, it has regularly conducted age-group tournaments and India’s women’s team’s fixtures where batsmen have been dominant.

Once Bangar got busy with other batsmen—Ravindra Jadeja, KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav—Dhoni helped team-mate Ambati Rayudu who got out cheaply in the Pune ODI.  Every time Rayudu got the line wrong, Dhoni was in his ears.

The World Cup-winning captain, who has been dropped for the T20 series against West Indies and Australia, didn't for once look perturbed by his omission and went about his business without much ado.

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After the practice session, a couple of school students chanted Dhoni's name as he made his way back, but the 37-year-old didn't oblige. Cutting the noise and focusing on his game seemed to be Dhoni's only motive.