Skipper jumps to Gambhir's defence

Skipper jumps to Gambhir's defence

Indeed, on Thursday, Mahendra Singh Dhoni came out in spirited defence of last year’s ICC Test Player of the Year, saying Gambhir was a victim of his own standards and that Murali Vijay had some way to go before displacing the Delhi left-hander.

“I feel that with Gautam, it’s more a fear of performance than the fear of failure,” the Indian captain reasoned. “He has set the benchmark so high and in India, whenever you set a benchmark, you are supposed to keep bettering it. He is in that phase where he is going through the pressure of performance rather than the pressure of failure.

“He will come good,” Dhoni reiterated. “He will realise at the end of the day that he personally needs to set his own benchmarks and work out what is realistically a good performance. He is a very good cricketer, he has done really well. He works very hard on his fitness and his cricket. He will come good, hopefully sooner than later.”

Conceding that Vijay had taken his chances, Dhoni added swiftly, “I still think Gautam is the best pick for the opening slot right now. Vijay has done really well in all formats wherever he has got a chance, but he will have to wait for some more time.”

In three of their last four Tests, India have started their second innings poorly. At the P Sara Oval, they slid to 62 for four and in Mohali against Australia, there were 76 for five chasing 216 for victory, both matches they managed to win thanks largely to VVS Laxman’s heroics. Laxman was again in the forefront when India recovered from 15 for five to salvage a draw in the first Test against New Zealand in Ahmedabad.

“We were also thinking about it,” Dhoni revealed. “Our performances, especially in the second innings, are not that great in the recent times. We are a bit bothered. But the good thing is that with the kind of experience we have, if we can do well in the first innings, there’s no good reason why we can’t repeat it in the second innings. I believe it is just a mental barrier or the mindset; at times, you tend to go too ahead of the game.

“But we have seen that cricket is a cruel game. It’s always good to be in the present and play one ball at a time, according to the merit of the delivery.” Dhoni also admitted that there was some panic in the ranks at 15 for five last week.

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