Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth January 11, 2012

Reports of rift in team are 'rubbish' - Sehwag

Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid have denied media reports of a rift in the Indian team over MS Dhoni's leadership and a lack of unity when under pressure. Reports suggested the team was split over Dhoni's captaincy style and even suggested that one group wanted Sehwag, the vice-captain, to take charge.

The Indian team is under gag orders that bar the players from speaking to the press outside the designated media interactions but Sehwag responded directly to the allegations of his own role, which appeared in Australian papers on Tuesday.

''When teams start losing then these kind of things come, but there is nothing true in that," Sehwag told the Age. "We are playing as a team, and we are fine. I can't talk about anything else because there are rules, but you asked me about this and I can say it is rubbish. We are a unit, and we are carrying on for the next Test.''

Dravid, who spoke at Wednesday's press conference, echoed the sentiment. "When you are down 2-0, all these things happen," he said. "Suddenly there's all sort of stuff floating around. There is absolutely no truth to any of these things. Like I said, the spirit in the team is pretty good."

Sunil Gavaskar, the former India captain, also said before the Sydney Test that he felt Dhoni was not getting the on-field backing of his senior players. "Captains need help because they are under pressure every time," he said on NDTV. "They need a vice-captain or a senior player who is going to come up at regular intervals and say, look, maybe try something different. And I don't think Dhoni is getting that ... Everybody is in their own cocoon, and that's where Dhoni needs a lot more interaction from the group itself."

More recent was Brad Haddin's observation that the Indian players "can turn on each other". When Haddin's team-mate and former captain Ricky Ponting was asked on Tuesday if he had actually seen anything on the field that might have led Haddin to feel that way, he said: "I haven't seen that as such. And I haven't really been looking for it. Whenever I have been batting, I have been trying to get myself into a zone, and try to focus on the next ball I have to face. Once again, I don't think any of us has worried or focussed too much about what the Indian team has been doing."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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