Mahendra Singh Dhoni has described as "disgusting and disrespectful" the fact that matters discussed in selection meetings are leaked and reported in the media. India's selectors chose Irfan Pathan over RP Singh for the next two ODIs against England, and reports of a serious disagreement over the choice cast a cloud over India's preparations for the fourth ODI against England in Bangalore.
"I don't know where the report came from. What happens inside a meeting where the selectors, the captain and the coaches are there, when it comes out it is disgusting and disrespectful," Dhoni said, after India's training session at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. "Things like this should not be happening. I'm not saying something happened at the meeting, but over the years we have seen things being leaked from meetings."
The Kolkata-based Anandabazar Patrika reported on Saturday that Dhoni favoured the inclusion of RP in the squad for the next two ODIs, and offered to step down when the selectors insisted on replacing him with Pathan. The report said Shashank Manohar, the board president, had been informed of the argument.
BCCI officials, however, have denied the report. "I don't talk about selection meetings. In any case it is all rubbish," N Srinivisan, the board secretary, told Cricinfo.
"This is the pinnacle of the sport. We are selecting 15 guys for the Indian team," said Dhoni. "There will be debates inside, and that information should not be put out in the media. If it is meant to come out, then I can say we might as well have the whole meeting telecast live on television. Nobody knows what was discussed except the eight guys in the meeting. And only they know whether it's the truth or not."
Dhoni said he did not speak to the BCCI because he felt it was not important. In his view, matters of selection should be made public only by the BCCI, the chairman of selectors, or one of the individuals on the selection panel. "We have an important match coming up, and we chose instead to focus on that match," he said. "This is a selection thing and personally I don't discuss anything outside. To some extent it does distract us. The good part is that we trust each other - every player in the team trusts the other."
Dhoni pledged his support to both RP and Pathan, who he said had faith in his abilities. "There might be a scenario where all of a sudden we might want to get in touch with RP Singh and Irfan Pathan. And you don't want RP to feel that I will go out of the way and stand and defend him and Irfan should not feel I don't want him in the team. I will stand and defend both these players and both of them trust me. My talks with them went off well."
"We do not have players in this team with outstanding talent, which can win every game. But as a team we are outstanding. So for us the mantra is being a team, and these things will not break the trust we have in each other. It's important for us to be a team."