Not bothered by criticism, says Dhoni

Somshuvra Laha, Hindustan Times:
It's expected of Alastair Cook to lead from the front with the bat. But the same possibly can't be said about MS Dhoni. Entrusted with the most difficult job in the cricket world, he has in the past found ways to back himself as player and captain and often gambled to glory.

Yet the same instinct, which gave India a World Cup and a World Twenty20 title, seems to have deserted Dhoni. Though only four Tests old, Cook has led from the front till now. As captain he has walked the Michael Clarke talk, averaging a staggering 116.50.

"Maybe the added responsibility makes you more accountable. As captain you always want a good start with the bat, prove you can cope with the demands," Cook said.

In the spotlight

Dhoni said pressure makes a difference when you are in the spotlight for a long time. "If you are leading a side for the last 3-4 years, then you will be in a situation where you will be under pressure more often."

Dhoni however feels for a wicketkeeper, captaincy comes with the territory. "The good thing about wicketkeepers is that right from the start you are like the vice-captain. It's not official but they set the field and captains give them that liberty. Wicketkeepers are more used to captaincy," he said.

On the back-foot after the 0-8 drubbing abroad, Dhoni has of late been inflexible with a team that can no longer fall back on the experience of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and is under pressure to bounce back after the routs in England and Australia.

England's dogged second innings of 406, where Cook and Matt Prior played the spinners with relative ease, and the purchase Graeme Swann got should have set the alarm bells ringing despite the huge win in Ahmedabad.

Dhoni instead crammed in three spinners in Mumbai but often didn't give them enough attacking fields. Zaheer Khan was under-used and despite early signs, Dhoni did little to plug easy singles to Kevin Pietersen and Cook. It allowed them to build a 206-run partnership.

The criticism has been scathing, but Dhoni says, "it's a part and parcel of Indian cricket. You get a lot of support when the team does well and people try to pull you down when you are not. I'm not really bothered."

England, on the other hand, brought in Monty Panesar, attacked India and got immediate results, leading Cook to endorse Dhoni's demand for pitches that give results. Dhoni too remains unfazed.

"It's not about winning or losing. It's about providing the right conditions where all the teams want to do well," said Dhoni, pointing out that the Eden Gardens wicket was 'good but won't help spinners initially'.

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