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India enact media drama to show unity
00:05 AEST Sat Jun 6 2009

India's cricketers held a bizarre media conference on Friday to dismiss reports of dissension in the team ahead of the World Twenty20.

The entire squad turned up for the pre-match briefing, instead of just the captain and coach, before their opening match against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni read a prepared statement and then walked out with his team-mates in front of a large group of stunned media persons before any questions could be asked.

Indian coach Gary Kirsten returned an hour later to hold a regular briefing following protests from journalists to the International Cricket Council's media officer Sami-ul Hasan.

The defending champions were peeved at media reports back home that Dhoni had clashed with vice-captain Virender Sehwag last week which prompted the aggressive opener to miss two practice matches.

Dhoni had told reporters a few days back that Sehwag had suffered a shoulder injury soon after the team's arrival in London and was doubtful for Saturday's opener against Bangladesh.

The Indian captain's statement on Friday stressed on a "superbly unified team with each individual supporting each other, both on and off the field".

"This message is for the people of India, and for Indian cricket fans worldwide, and comes from the whole team," the statement read by Dhoni began.

"That's why we are all here.

"As we prepare for the World Twenty20, we are a superbly unified team. The team spirit is good as it has ever been, with each individual supporting each other, both on and off the field.

"Recent reports in the Indian media of a rift between myself and Sehwag amount to nothing but false and irresponsible media.

"Our fans and supporters can take confidence from the wonderful unity that continues to exist in this team.

"We thank our fans for their continued support and look forward to entertaining you during this tournament, which we go into well-prepared, unified as Team India and confident.

"Thank you," the statement ended.

Kirsten defended the show of unity, saying his team had been unfairly targeted in the media.

"When we get accused of infighting it hurts us," the former South African opening batsman said.

"It does not happen in this team. It just hurt a little bit. We wanted to send a message across that this team is really unified.

"We play positive, good cricket and we try and win games of cricket. From the media's side it is important that they report responsibly.

"If some statement has been made that there has been infighting, I think it's not true, it's irresponsible.

"There were individuals that felt that something needed to be done and something needed to be said, hence it was a collective decision.

"And we wanted to show the Indian people that we are together, because a certain section of the media has not projected it that way," Kirsten said.


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