Dhoni in for a change: crew cut, new 'girlfriend'

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (UNI) His flowing manes once attracted ''I like it'' comment from the Pakistan President Pervez Musharaaf, but India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said it was not a big deal to spot a new hairstyle and did it for a change.

''I did it (cut my hair) for a change. That is it, what is the big deal in it,'' a new-look Dhoni said.

In the last tour of Pakistan, President Musharaaf had said he was impresesed by Dhoni's locks but the Jharkhand lad cut his hair and spotted a crew cut after the ODI series against Australia.

Here in the capital for a felicitation by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in recognition of their winning the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup, along with the Asia Cup winning Indian hockey players, Dhoni refused to talk on anything related to cricket but made it a point to offer something to journalists on media speculation on his 'link up' with Bollywood beauty Dipika Padukone.

''I am trying to make her my friend. I am doing this (making friends with a girl) for the first time in my life. She is doing the same, she wants to make friends with me,'' the Jharkhand lad said.

Apart from Dhoni, vice-captain Yuvraj Singh and cricket manager Lalchand Rajput refused to discuss anything relating to omission of former skipper Rahul Dravid from the first two ODIs against Pakistan.

Virender Sehwag, who was recalled in the India squad, was conspicous by his absence and BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla said the Delhi batsman was not well.

Yuvraj Singh addressed the waiting media after Dhoni refused to do it.

''We are privileged to have been felicitated by the President.

She spoke to us and encouraged us to continue to bring laurels for the country. We have also met the Prime Minister today. It feels great for us,'' he said.

When asked how they felt about mingling with hockey players, the Punjab batsman said, ''It was a nice experience and it has sent out a message to the whole country that they (hockey) have been given recognition for their good performance and we have got ours for winning the World Cup.'' Earlier, the President felicitated the Twenty20 World Cup winning team without Sehwag and Asia Cup wiinnig hockey team led by captain Prabhod Tirkey.

Indian men's football team, who won the Nehru Cup in August, could not come as they are to play a World Cup first round qualifier home match against Lebanon in Goa today.

All India Football Federation President Priyaranjan Dasmunsi represented the team.

Before meeting President, both the teams met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence.

Addressing both the teams, President Patil said, ''It is heartening to note what a successful year this has been for India in the field of sports. Our teams and sportspersons have delighted the nation with spectacular performances and victories that have made us all proud.'' ''This year we have three laurels to our credit, the Nehru Cup in football, the Asia Cup in hockey and the maiden Twenty20 Cricket World Cup and regaining of the world title in Chess (by Viswanathan Anand).

''I congratulate the victorious teams for their hard work, motivation and dedication,'' she said.

BCCI president-elect Shashank Manohar, joint secretary M P Pandove, Indian cricket team bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach Robin Singh were present on the ocassion.

From hockey, Indian Hockey Federation president KPS Gill was also present besides India team coach Joaquim Carvalho and assistant coach MP Singh.

Former captain Dilip Tirkey did not accompany the hockey team.

UNI

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