Dhoni defends under-fire coach Fletcher

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni Saturday defended under-fire coach Duncan Fletcher, saying it was upto the players to go out and perform on the field.

"Players need to take responsibility. Coaches can only do so much, it is the players who would finally have to perform on the field. The utmost responsibility lies with an individual," Dhoni told reporters on the eve of the third ODI.

Fletcher, who had guided England to Ashes victory, has come under heavy fire for the Indian team's poor performance of late. Fletcher succeeded South African Gary Kirsten, who quit the post after taking India to victory in the 2011 World Cup.

The Indian captain also cast doubt on his playing in the third and final ODI against Pakistan at the Ferozeshah Kotla here Sunday, citing a back problem.

Dhoni has been India's top performer in the series, which the hosts have already lost after going 0-2 down.

He has scored 113 not out in a losing cause in the first ODI in Chennai, while in Kolkata he was again the top scorer hitting an unbeaten 54.

"I am doubtful for tomorrow as of now. I suffered a back problem during the practice today," said Dhoni. "Dinesh Karthik has been called up as my backup and we will take a final call before the match."

Speaking about Sunday's dead rubber, Dhoni said that they would be treating the match as a preparation the England series.

"We have already lost this series but this match is important to us in order to prepare for the coming series. We haven't been able to bat well in this series and will try to change that. We'll feature our best XI," he said.

Dhoni rued the fact that the Indian team had failed to put pressure on the visiting Pakistan team and said that the entire team as a unit had failed to fire.

"This series we haven't batted well. In the earlier series sometimes our batsmen would do well and sometimes our bowlers. As a combined unit we have failed to perform."

Dhoni said that it becomes tough for a team when the best 11 of the 15 are not doing well.

"The 15 guys that make the squad are the best we have got and if 11 of them don't perform as a team, you cannot just chop and change them. You have to back them," Dhoni said.

Asked if he had a session with the misfiring seniors, Dhoni said: "We all have chats in the dressing room. The thing is that everyone knows what the problems are; we discuss them in the team meetings. But it all boils down to going on the field and performing. Having long team meetings don't really help your performance. The general guidelines remain the same."

Dhoni shrugged off questions on the growing pressure over his status as the captain of team.

"If I started taking pressure after every match and listened to everything the media and the others had to say, I would have crumbled by now," he commented.

"Everyone has a right to their opinions and we respect that but in the end we have to make the final call keeping the interests of the team in mind."

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