India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 5th day December 9, 2012

'Won't run away from responsibility' - Dhoni


MS Dhoni has left his future as captain in the selectors' hands, but he has also said he won't run away from the responsibility.

"As a leader this is a challenge thrown at me," Dhoni said moments after India completed their first set of back-to-back home Test losses since 1999-2000. "It is always good to lead a side when you are performing well. That is not the time you need a leader. Leading a side is all about when the team is not doing well. To try to gel the team together. To back the youngsters, back the seniors. Try to move in the right direction.

"The easiest thing to do for me right now is to quit the captaincy and stay part of the side. That's running away from responsibility that's upon us. Of course there are others who will decide. There is BCCI and other administrative people who look into that. For me, my responsibility is to get the team together and be prepared for the next Test match."

As usual, Dhoni contradicted himself in the same answer when asked to elaborate on Duncan Fletcher's role. He said, rightly so, that the team shouldn't look for excuses and scapegoats, but in the same breath he made these Test defeats sound like an aberration, failing to admit to the lows that the team has reached.

"He [Fletcher] has got excellent technical knowledge about our batting," Dhoni said. "He guides us in the right direction. Ultimately once you cross that rope you are on your own whatever happens. That's the time you have to get up and retaliate. That's where we are lacking as of now.

"It's wrong to question the coach. We have won quite a few series, the ODI performance have been really good. In between we have won Test series. Okay in Australia and England we struggled, but this is a series after that that we have not done well, the last two matches that you see. You shouldn't really look for excuses, to put it on the coach. Ultimately it is up to the 11 players who turn up on the field. On a wicket like this, you need to score more runs, and the situation will be different."

For the record, India have been knocked out of two ODI tournaments this year, they have lost to Bangladesh, and were disappointing in World Twenty20 too. In Tests, they have won at home, and that too against West Indies and New Zealand. In the West Indies, they won one Test and refused to try to win another. The Test record under Fletcher is 10 defeats to six wins. Reduce it to strong opposition, and it becomes 9-1. This is not to put all the blame on Fletcher, but to clarify that India haven't won much at all, unlike what the captain believes.

Dhoni also said the side's batting can't run away from responsibility either. The first question he was asked at the press conference was, "How bad does it need to get before it gets better?" Dhoni didn't answer directly, but responded with a description of batting failures.

"The batting order will have to take responsibility," he said. "We need to score more runs. This was a very good wicket to bat on. Of course the bowlers will bowl a few good deliveries that you need to keep out. But the top seven, most of us will have to score at the same time so that we can get a par total, which the bowlers can look to defend. If you don't score too many runs in the first innings and if the opposition score runs in the first innings, you will find yourself under pressure."

Dhoni said this was not the worst phase of his career. The worst came in England and Australia, he said, for at least here they can hope to rectify the problems. "If you talk about the low, the England, Australia series were the lows because we weren't able to compete," he said. "Here we know what the faults are and we should be able to rectify those. Overall the bowlers are doing well, I think. Once you don't get enough runs on the board you question bowlers too as to if they would have defended a bigger score as well, but I think the spinners have done really well. Bit more contribution from the fast bowlers would really help."

On the fast bowlers, the obvious question was about Zaheer Khan's effectiveness and fitness. "It's a very technical question," Dhoni said. "The beauty of it is we all know the problem and it will be great help if find out a solution. Everybody is asking the same question.

"As far as the fitness is concerned, he has been the way he is for the last few years. Definitely he is not unfit, he is doing everything. The England batsmen are doing well. From behind it looks as if he is bowling in the right area. Bowlers sometimes go through a phase when they don't get wickets. This is a phase maybe. As far as the bowling is concerned he is still bowling quite the same. He is swinging it both ways. We will have to wait and watch. He looks fit. Fitness is not an issue."

We will wait and watch indeed. Dhoni was due to go to a selection meeting soon after leaving the ground.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 12, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    @ Dineshotham Kumar Khambhammettu ...............GREAT GESTURE...........................Only thing to blame is strategy and making strategy is the job of COACH..........He must form correct strategy

  • Sudhanshu on December 11, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    I think Dhoni should be dropped from captaincy and the team. We need a technically correct batsmen for test cricket. He should be selected only for one days and t20s where his record is superior. I think he will be more than happy to relinquish test cricket considering the IPL and other commitments. We don't want bits and pieces cricker for test cricket, especially when we have better test wicket keeper batsman than him. Note that Samit Patel is playing for England entirely because of his batting skills and once Panesar is in the side, Cook has hardly allowed Patel to bowl. We really need Dravid and Laxman kind of stylish and classical cricketers for test cricket. There is no use of giving Dhoni any chances in test cricket. We should look at his test statistics in overseas cricket.

  • Dummy4 on December 11, 2012, 7:57 GMT

    Dhoni should think of batting up the order. While he comes, he misses out all the support he has on the other end, maybe he should come 2 down.

  • Dummy4 on December 11, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    Guys, Understand this, Rut is common in any form of game. These guys aren't there for losing. They aren't losers, they aren't cowards. They are just into a rut. Now, all we are doing is to aggravate them. The average pressure that an Indian Cricketer has on him is too much. I know they earn well, but earning doesn't give u happiness. Infact debating about all this, doesn't give them confidence. Sometimes we need to tell our guys that we are with you. They know their job better than anyone else. Let us stick to them when they need our support. Just blaming every1 and suggesting changes in not required. Faith. First they need to believe in their team. Once they get the belief, they are on the job. Characters come when there is enough emotional support. I take my Indian tea's side. I am not in a mirage. They are the best, all they require is time for themselves to improve and the assurance that they are secure. Let us give them faith guys

  • Alex on December 11, 2012, 1:36 GMT

    DUMP Dhoni Duncan Sachin. All at same time. It has to be done if BCCI people have common sense.

  • Kuldeep on December 11, 2012, 0:19 GMT

    Dhoni a One Day and T20 great but Test Match tragic.

  • Kuldeep on December 11, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    What leadership? India is struggling because he has shown no leadership at all, backing up non consistent players is extremely foolish in my opinion.

  • t on December 10, 2012, 20:58 GMT

    Why doesn't Indian media ask hard probing questions of Dhoni / Fletcher / BCCI instead of allowing them to give facetious answers & get away lightly? ask the same question again till they stop evading. questions like - why has the slip cordon become a game of musical chairs?

  • Clean on December 10, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    Dhoni meant to say that he won't run away from the Money that he gets paid.

  • Justin on December 10, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    The biggest problem with Indian Cricket is not with BCCI, not the cricketers, not the coaching staff, not the facilities, not the grounds, not the pitch but it is all about the stupidity of Indian fans. Why do we do hero worship, make a simple human being like Sachin, Dhoni, Sehwag or even Gambhir a God and expect them to do miraculous things even when they near the end of their life. We Indians lack PROFESSIONALISM in following games, but adopt SPORTS RITUALISM and worship ordinary individuals. Leave alone cricketers, there are idiots who even worship IPL owners. When the Indian fans become objective and simply avoid being crazy fans, if a cricketer is not contributing he will walk away and the next best will find his place in the team. Now the biggest problem is the past and present selectors, the BCCI and everyone in India and even SACHIN is afraid, if there will be a severe backlash from his fans if he announces his retirement. Let anyone go if they want to.

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