Dhoni aims to retain World Cup

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Dubai, Feb 14 (IANS) India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni Friday said his side is shaping up nicely and is on course to become the third country after Australia and the West Indies to win back-to-back ICC Cricket World Cups.

Dhoni, who hit the winning runs in Mumbai when India won their second World Cup title, added that his side has players who are capable of handling the pressure of a global event.

The victory in the ICC Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom in 2013 proved that India has the firepower and ability to excel outside their own territory, he stressed.

“It is amazing to think that it is just one year until we defend our ICC Cricket World Cup title as that means it is almost three years since we won the trophy on that amazing night in Mumbai. The memories of that night and of the whole tournament are as fresh and as special as ever,” an ICC media release quoted Dhoni as saying.

The tournament will be staged in Australia and New Zealand from Feb 14 to March 29, with India to open their title defence against traditional rival and 1992 champions Pakistan in Adelaide Feb 15.

“We know that defending the ICC Cricket World Cup is something that only the West Indies and Australia have done over the whole history of the tournament, but with the quality we have in and around our squad we believe we can become the third side to do it,” Dhoni said.

“We have a group of players who are experienced at playing in high-pressure situations and we have already shown we are capable of dealing with the dual pressures of being world champions and coping in overseas conditions at a major ICC event by winning the ICC Champions Trophy in the UK last year,” Dhoni added.

While India won their first title in 1983 under the captaincy of Kapil Dev, Clive Lloyd led the West Indies to titles in 1975 and 1979, and Steve Waugh (1999) and Ricky Ponting (2003 and 2007) were at the helm when Australia won the tournament in England, South Africa and the West Indies.

Dhoni, who occupies sixth position in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI Batsmen, said the New Zealand tour has allowed his side to experience the conditions they will face during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, which, in turn, has helped his side to prepare for next year’s tournament.

“Although we did not win our latest ODI series in New Zealand, it has given us valuable experience of what we can expect in 12 months’ time.

“The next year is now all about getting our plans in place and remaining confident, and, if we can do that, then we will be in a good place by the time the action starts next February. I remember the joy that us winning the ICC Cricket World Cup brought to all Indians all over the world in 2011 and we want to do the same again by playing to the best of our ability in 2015,” said Dhoni.

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