Virat Kohli (L) has been in prime form in the ICC World T20. Will he be able to deliver one last punch in the grand finale against Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today? Photo: Firoz Ahmed
A glance at India's cricketing records in mega events in the last 10 years would make any captain want to step into Mahendra Singh Dhoni's shoes. The T20 World Cup in 2007, the 50-over World Cup in 2011, the Champions Trophy in 2013 and finally the grand opportunity of getting a third World Cup-win under his belt, when India take on Sri Lanka at Mirpur today; the list seems endless.
However, describing his journey as a smooth sail would be the last pair of adjectives that one could use, for he has had to face as much criticism, for the lean patches, as the appraisals that came by. Shouldering the burdens of the most demanding cricket nation in the world, it's been Dhoni's calm and practical approach that has led him to where he belongs today.
As Dhoni himself put it during the pre-match press conference at Mirpur yesterday, "Controversies, I have been through them all, there is hardly any good or bad thing that happens without my name."
On the eve of the attempt of a clean sweep of all the ICC championships, Dhoni stated that it was his ability to stay calm during tensed situations that has helped him reach this far.
"I can say that I wasn't so calm at a young age. I don't like to lose, so when I was young I had troubles controlling my emotions. Over the period of time I controlled it. Through this principle, I benefited.
"I leave it [pressure] at the stadium that's the best thing I can do. Over the years, there is not a thing really that I have not seen in cricket... the best, the lean patch. I don't give a thought to something that is beyond my control," said Dhoni.
"It's been an interesting time, lots of ups and downs, it has taught me a lot and it still is a learning curve for me. Hopefully it will help me in life after cricket," he added.
He further stated that the personal achievement would be the last thing on his mind.
"That's something that will be very good for the side, but that's something we can always think about once we win the finals, as of now we just have to think about playing good cricket and contribute. That will be the most crucial aspect and not thinking about the cricket."
Dhoni believes that the ability to handle pressure has gradually been ingrained in the team.
"I think in a period of time, most of the cricketers have played a big Test match or a big final, they are quite well trained and able to control all their emotions," said Dhoni.
Sri Lanka's team effort has followed a similar virtue of that of India's and it was an aspect Dhoni was aware of. The last game against South Africa, according to the captain, was the perfect preparatory match for the finals.
"They have a fantastic team. They have the kind of spinners suited for a track like this. They also have experienced players and exciting youngsters. As far as the last game is concerned, we were really tested. We had to chase 30 runs extra. Overall it's a good feeling because we have scored so many runs," said Dhoni.
Virat Kohli has been India's star performer in the tournament so far and Dhoni expects him to be the key-player yet again.
"I feel he has grabbed his opportunity to the best of his potentials. He is somebody who tries to improve with each and every game. He is a consistent performer and has a pace that's really difficult to match," said Dhoni.