Mirpur After an embarrassing first-ever ODI series defeat at the hands of Bangladesh, India’s limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said that he is ready to step down from captaincy and play as a player if that’s what benefits the team.
India lost their second successive ODI to Bangladesh on Sunday to concede a 2-0 lead in the three-match series here, which also confirmed the hosts a place in next year’s Champions Trophy.
Bangladesh won the first ODI by 79 runs, followed by a six-wicket win on Sunday to clinch a historic series victory.
Dhoni, who quit Test cricket in the middle of Australia tour last year, said he will be the first person to take the blame for the series defeat.
“If it is justified that you remove me and Indian cricket will start doing well, then definitely I would love to step aside and play as just a player. Ultimately, it is most important for India to win and not who is leading them to the win,” the skipper said at the post-match conference. If you play long enough, you see the good and bad days on the field. But I am really enjoying my cricket.
“I was never really in line to become the captain, but it was given to me. Now if you take it away from me, I will still be happy because what is more important for me is to play for the country and contribute to a win,” he added.
Dhoni pushed himself up the order to No. 4 in the match on Sunday and nearly proved effective when he fell to Bangladesh’s latest cricketing hero Mustafizur Rahman for 47.
Rahman followed up his 5 for 50 in the first ODI with another match-winning effort of 6 for 43 to become the only player in history to claim 11 wickets in his first two ODIs.
Dhoni also defended the decision to drop Ajinkya Rahane for Ambati Rayudu, saying that the right-hander is best suited on fast tracks.
“We all felt that he [Rahane] needs pace on the wicket to play well. On faster wickets he plays a lot better. But when he plays at number four or five on a slower wicket, he finds it difficult to freely rotate the strike.
“This problem of his is especially seen at the start of his innings. It’s not easy. Ajinkya will have to wait. Whenever Rayudu has gotten a chance to play for India, apart from this match, he has done well for us. He is a good character to have in the side. He is not someone who looks very stylish but is someone who can score runs for you which is more important,” the skipper reasoned when asked why Rahane was left out of the eleven in the must-win game.
Dhoni was quick to respond when asked where India lost the series.
“It is simple to see what went wrong. It is our batting. I thought it was a decent wicket. Also if you see, our start wasn’t good. Then we formed a partnership, after that Virat Kohli got out, then there was a partnership between me and Dhawan. After that, when we thought of increasing the run rate, then Dhawan got out, then Rayudu got out immediately. If the wickets keep falling, then there is a difficulty in rotating the strike freely,” Dhoni said.
“When you lose wickets one after the other, its difficult to take calculated risks. I felt that was the reason we couldn’t achieve a par score in this game. I don’t think we played the kind of game we can play. We didn’t play to our potential.”
Dhoni also rued the fact that his team was unable to form a good partnership.
“I think everything depends on forming partnerships. Who scored how many runs doesn’t matter. What matter is how much run partnerships we are making. I felt the lower order could have contributed a bit more and reach maybe 230 runs. But as I said, we kept losing wickets at regular intervals; it just piles on the pressure,” he said.
When asked about the series loss, Dhoni said: “It is quite disappointing. This is our first series loss [against Bangladesh]. But in sport you must always find the reason. We were completely outplayed in both the matches and in this game we didn’t get enough runs. Yes, it is disappointing. But it is not the end of the world.”
On being asked if this was the biggest loss of his career, he quickly said: “No. I can’t forget the loss in the 2007 World Cup.”
India made three changes to their line-up. Rahane, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma were replaced with Rayudu, Axar Patel and Dhawal Kulkarni.
Dhoni justified the selection by saying that “the selection is the captain’s responsibility, so please don’t interfere with it. How can you ask me to add Stuart Binny to the mix. Team selection is my area and I will do whatever I feel is best for the team.
“We felt these were the changes which were necessary. The reason being we played with three fast bowlers and none of them could bowl their quote of 10 overs. So we thought of going with a specialist spinner but since we couldn’t score the runs we needed, judging bowlers’ performance will be difficult,” he added.
Dhoni, who was under a lot of criticism for not scoring runs of late, justified his move to go up the order.
“The whole idea was for me to go up and play a bit more freely. The last four to five years I have done the same thing. I go to bat at number 6 when there is pressure and sometimes because of it, I am not able to bat freely. So I wanted to bat up and go after the bowlers a bit, but by the time I got set, we lost wickets. Then we had to build some kind of partnership but we again lost a couple of wickets. I would like to bat up and play a bit more freely,” he said.
The India captain was asked whether the coaching staff should be held responsible.
“Indirectly you are saying that you are missing Duncan Fletcher, which is good because I think he wasn’t really appreciated by the media. He did all the hard work and was with the team for a long time. And during his time we travelled to a couple of difficult countries. But I don’t think we should blame our current support staff. Ultimately it is us players who go on the field and play. If you are indirectly hinting that we need a coach, then I don’t agree. We have enough members in our support staff to take care of us.”
The Indian team has been playing non-stop cricket for the last 14-15 months. When asked whether fatigue was a reason for the loss, Dhoni said: “It has been a long season of cricket for us. Four and a half months in Australia, before that two and a half months in England. So it keeps going on.
“It is very difficult for me to say if this (fatigue) is the reason. But it is the same team that keeps on playing in every series. So it becomes a bit tiring to consistently turn up and perform,” he said.
cerdit : ibnlive