Dhoni does not want Tendulkar milestone to be distraction

NEW DELHI Sat Nov 5, 2011 11:14am GMT

India's Sachin Tendulkar bowls during a practice session ahead of their first test cricket match against West Indies in New Delhi November 5, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

India's Sachin Tendulkar bowls during a practice session ahead of their first test cricket match against West Indies in New Delhi November 5, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The anticipation of Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international century is the expected highlight of the team's three-test series against West Indies but India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not willing to let it become a distraction.

Tendulkar has been stuck on 99 tons (51 in tests and 48 in one dayers) since the 50-over World Cup earlier this year and fans expect him to reach the milestone on home soil against a West Indies attack not without its limitations.

"We will let him get the century and then we will speak about it. Hopefully he gets it in this (the first) game and we will speak about it on the fifth day," Dhoni told reporters after Saturday's practice session at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.

"It's a milestone Sachin will achieve, whether in this game, the next game or some other game. It's bound to happen.

"So rather than discussing too much ahead of the milestone coming in, what we are doing is we said 'okay, let him get the ton and then we'll talk about it'. We are thinking about how we need to prepare for the series.

"Of course one he gets his ton, we all will celebrate with him. It will be a big moment for Indian cricket."

Dhoni's seriousness stems from his determination to guide India back to the top of test rankings after England dethroned them with a 4-0 whitewash in August.

"We want to be the best in the world but it's not something that belongs to you. You have to maintain it, you have to keep doing well.

"We did not do too well in England and that's why we are not the number one team right now. Again it becomes a process and to reach to the top of the world, you have to follow the process.

"It's the start of another process for us and hopefully we will be focussed enough to do well, get there again and try to sustain it."

With pace spearhead Zaheer Khan recovering from ankle surgery and senior spinner Harbhajan Singh dropped, India will have to rely on a relatively inexperienced attack to get those 20 wickets in each match.

Dhoni said at least two players, most likely off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and either Umesh Yadav or fellow pace bowler Varun Aaron, will make their test debuts Sunday.

And the team would make sure they did not get too excited, Dhoni said.

"It is not a difficult thing because if you see the bowlers who have been selected, most of them have played the ODI format which means they have fair amount of exposure when it comes to international cricket.

"So I don't think they will really get excited.

"Of course, if we see something happening there are senior players who will come to their rescue and help them out."

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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