Dhoni is the ''Obama'' of cricket, says Praveen Kumar

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Kushan Sarkar

New Delhi, Feb 1 (PTI) If being inspiring is a measure ofleadership skills then Indian cricket captain Mahendra SinghDhoni is comparable only to charismatic American PresidentBarack Obama, feels all-rounder Praveen Kumar.

"He is the Obama of cricket," was Praveen''s reply whenasked what makes Dhoni a special captain.

Lauded for being cool and composed in trying matchsituations, throwing his weight behind players he believes inand for trying the unconventional, Dhoni''s leadership hasrarely been criticised since he took over in 2007.

Obama, who became the first Black President of the UnitedStates, is widely seen as an inspirational leader and Praveenconsiders Dhoni no less influential as far as Indian cricketis concerned.

The 24-year-old bowling all-rounder, who will be playingin his first World Cup, is naturally excited although thereare a few butterflies in his tummy.

"I am living a dream right now. World Cup is no ordinaryevent and we will play in our country. The level of intensityand excitement will be of different level. I can''t really waitto get into the thick of things," Praveen told PTI overtelephone from Bangalore.

''PK'', as he is fondly known in the cricketing fraternity,is currently undergoing a rehab programme at the NationalCricket Academy for his injured elbow which cut short his tourof South Africa.

"I am feeling pretty good now. The rehab programme is onthe right track and hopefully I will strike a good rhythmbefore the tournament starts."

Asked about India''s chances at the cricketingextravaganza, Praveen said, "The quality of cricket that wehave produced during the recent times makes us the favourites.

Look at our team, we have such world class players. Thepreparation has been good. Hopefully, we can win the Cup."More PTI KHS PM MRM

For the new ball bowler, England will be the other team to watch out for during the tournament.

"England has also put up some consistent performance oflate so one can expect a good show from them," he said.

Praveen, who relies more on his ability to move the ballboth ways, admitted that the adjustment of length on the dustysub-continental pitches will be key to success for the mediumpacers.

"Obviously when you play in South Africa or Australia,you can hit back of length but on Indian pitches where theball keeps low, you have to vary your length according to thesituations. The more variations you can use, the better itis."

He didn''t forget to mention the amount of guidance he hasgot from the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra.

"Zaheer bhai and Ashish bhai have always supported me.

They have guided me in pressure situations and have come upwith some really useful tips," Praveen, who has taken 57wickets from 48 ODIs, informed.

For someone who comes from a family of wrestlers, hisuncle being a Bharat Keshri, Praveen is known to use the longhandle to good effect but has underperformed as a batsman.

"I know my capabilities as a batsman as I have opened forUttar Pradesh and India A. But if you have a look at ourline-up, we have some class players. However, I will be morethan happy if I can contribute with the bat too," he signedoff.

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