Speculation over the future of master batsman Sachin Tendulkar and coach Gary Kirsten are more distractions India will have to ignore if they are to lift the World Cup on home soil, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Thursday.
The Feb. 19-April 2 showpiece event represents, in all probability, Indian batting maestro Tendulkar's last World Cup, and it has hogged a major share of the limelight in the build-up to the event.
Local media reports have also claimed that India's highly successful South African coach Kirsten will not renew his contract at the end of the tournament for personal reasons.
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"The feeling is the same (in the team). What is important for the team is to concentrate more on the process and the preparation rather than think about all the other things," Dhoni told reporters.
"There are plenty of issues that always surround the Indian cricket team. We are quite good at distracting ourselves from all the issues. But the fact remains that it will be the last World Cup for Sachin and most likely it will be the last tournament for Gary Kirsten as India's coach."
The wicket-keeper batsman rued the absence of paceman Praveen Kumar due to injury and said India will miss the "street-smart" cricketer.
"It is unfortunate that Praveen had to miss the World Cup. He has featured consistently in the ODI format for us," Dhoni said.
"He has done very well for us in all formats. We will miss him. He has been a street-smart cricketer for us.
"But you can't really restrict injuries from happening to the cricketers."BIG FAN
The Indian captain though was happy with the balance of his squad. "We have got some very experienced players in the side," he added.
"Most of the players have played over 5-7 years of (international) cricket at least. That's a very good sign. At the same time you have got very talented youngsters who can really change the course of the game."
The World Cup, to be jointly hosted with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, will help revive the popularity of the 50-over format, which has been hit by the success of the shorter and more entertaining Twenty20 format, Dhoni said.World Cup 2011
"I am a big fan of 50-over cricket. For test matches you have to wait for five days and T20 cricket happens in just five overs," he said.
"It's a mix of test cricket and the T20 format. I have always loved ODI cricket. But that doesn't mean I don't like test cricket or T20 format.
"It (World Cup) is a big stage. Specially, because it's happening in India, you will have a big fan-following and everyone is looking forward to the World Cup."