Embattled Dhoni kicks up a row
Questions Gambhir’s attitude, on-field ethics
As he prepared to lead India in the fourth Test against England at Nagpur, Mahendra Singh Dhoni found himself embroiled in a controversy with a website reporting that he had written to the Cricket Board, complaining about opening batsman Gautam Gambhir.
Dhoni reportedly questioned Gambhir’s attitude and on-field ethics, and even blamed the opener for the run-outs of Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara in the Kolkata Test that hurt India’s chances, the website claimed, quoting an unnamed player, hinting at fissures in the team ahead of the crucial game.
Dhoni’s differences with Virender Sehwag had come out into open several times in the past while Gambhir was replaced as vice-captain of the team for the Asia Cup in March, with Virat Kohli shouldering the responsibility.
Speaking to reporters on the eve of a game that India should win to share the series, Dhoni remained unruffled about the negative comments flying around. “If you are part of the Indian cricket set up everything is under the microscope and everybody has an opinion. You can ask plenty of questions on why that guy was not picked and why this guy was not given the new ball. It’s a team sport,” he said.
While the website ‘Cricketnext’ alleged Dhoni had felt Gambhir had become too “self-centred” which was hurting the team, the captain had only praises for the opener at his press conference. “The best thing about Gautam is his aggressive character. He has batted very well in the last two games. Being aggressive is not only about stepping out and hitting the ball but also about positively defending,” he said.
Former selector Mohinder Amarnath, several former cricketers and fans have called for Dhoni’s head but the Jharkhandi chose to brush aside the criticism. In India, “every Tom, Dick and Harry has an opinion about the game,” he said. “When people appreciate me a lot, I don’t feel as if I am in seventh heaven. And It’s the same when people criticise me.
We have extreme opinions. We praise and then start pulling the same individuals down. I would say it’s very important to be in the middle path because that’s how you will enjoy the sport,” he insisted.
Amarnath had told a TV channel that all the five national selectors had decided to sack Dhoni in January this year. “We selected the team for the triangular series in Australia, selected 17 players but we didn’t select the captain. The captain was selected by somebody else,” Amarnath said, pointing out that it was the Board president N Srinivasan who saved Dhoni his job.
Asked about the reasons behind Srinivasan’s intervention, Amarnath answered, “When you respect a person, you don’t ask questions...but my question here is you have a selection committee who think what is best for Indian cricket then why are they not given free hand?”