Cricket: Dhoni's India fly high amid upheaval at home

Cricket: Dhoni's India fly high amid upheaval at home

DHAKA - For the second time in less than a year, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Indian team is making up for the sins of its administrators with a flawless display at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

Ignoring the upheaval back home, India cruised into the semi-finals for the first time since triumphing in the 2007 inaugural event with three emphatic wins in group two of the Super-10s.

The players seemed unaffected by the Supreme Court's Friday decision to replace the Board of Control for Cricket in India's controversial chief N. Srinivasan with batting legend Sunil Gavaskar for the duration of the Indian Premier League, in the wake of a spot-fixing scandal.

A court-appointed panel had concluded that Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings, could be guilty of illegal betting on IPL games.

The franchise is owned by Srinivasan's Chennai-based business house India Cements, and captained by Dhoni.

BCCI vice-president Shivlal Yadav, a former Test off-spinner, was also put in charge of the day-to-day affairs of the board.

When the scandal broke last June, Dhoni's Indian team went to England and won the eight-nation Champions Trophy one-day tournament, adding to the World Cup title it won in 2011.

At the ongoing World Twenty20, India thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan and defending champions West Indies by identical seven-wicket margins, before beating the hosts by eight wickets on Friday.

The charismatic Dhoni said the team owed its success to a "good dressing-room atmosphere and having belief in yourself and enjoying each other's success."

"A lot of things happen around cricket but you have to be focused when you are representing your country," he said. "That is one thing that this team has done really well.

"And of course it is about accepting and enjoying the challenges, trying to prove that you are one of the best when it comes to international cricket."

India take on winless Australia in their last league match on Sunday hoping to iron out the shortcomings as they head into the knock-out rounds.

"We have given a very good performance so far but there are still some areas where we can improve," Dhoni said. "We have dropped some catches, but the other teams have dropped catches too.

"If our middle-order has not been tested, then it's beyond our control. We can't do much about it. All we can do for the middle-order is give them the priority in the next match and send them up the order."

Under-rated leg-spinner Amit Mishra has fashioned the three wins with seven wickets so far, bagging the man of the match awards against Pakistan and the West Indies.

Virat Kohli has yet to be dismissed in the tournament, scoring 147 runs with two half-centuries. Opener Rohit Sharma has made 142 runs, also with two 50s.

With Australia and Bangladesh virtually out of the race, Pakistan and the West Indies are likely to fight for the second semi-final spot from the group on Tuesday.

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