x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

MS Dhoni willing to step down from the India captaincy

The Indian captain back to lead the team against Australia in the first Twenty20 international.

MS Dhoni will lead India against Australia in the first Twenty20 international.
MS Dhoni will lead India against Australia in the first Twenty20 international.

MS Dhoni would readily step aside as the Indiacaptain if there was a suitable replacement available, the under-fire wicketkeeper-batsman said yesterday.

"It's not something I want to hold on to or stick on to. If there's a better replacement, it's a very open thing, he can come in," Dhoni told a news conference on the eve of India's first Twenty20 international against Australia today.

"At the end of the day, you want India to perform. If there is someone who can do a better job, then it's a place that should be given to him. It's not something you have to cling on to," he said.

Under Dhoni, India won the Twenty20 and 50-over World Cups in 2007 and 2011 respectively and became the top-ranked Test nation before the team's spectacular decline started in England last year.

The team lost the Test series 4-0, and further humiliation awaited them in Australia, where they succumbed to their second successive whitewash abroad.

Dhoni missed the last Test in Adelaide, having incurred a one-match ban for the team's slow over rate in Perth, but his leadership was criticised in the 4-0 series loss in Australia.

Dhoni did not endear himself to the fans and former cricketers either by hinting he might quit Tests to focus on the 2015 World Cup.

"I definitely feel that Dhoni does not enjoy Test cricket," his former captain Sourav Ganguly recently told Aaj Tak channel.

"His performance in Test and one-day cricket are poles apart and by making such a statement, he has also perhaps explained his complete disinterest in the longer format of the game," Ganguly added.

While one wicketkeeper says he would be prepared to relinquish the captaincy, another, Brad Haddin, claims he has been dropped by Australia, not rested.

Haddin was omitted from Australia's one-day squad in favour of Matthew Wade for the first three matches of the limited-overs tri-series against India and Sri Lanka, with John Inverarity, the chairman of selectors, saying the Test stumper was being rested after a heavy Test schedule.

But Haddin told Sky Sports Radio yesterday that he had been dropped and may never get his spot back.

The 34 year old said if Wade takes his chance in the opening matches of the tri-series, which starts on Sunday, he could be kept out of the team for good.

"I think any time you're out of the Australian cricket team I think you're dropped," Haddin said.

"You give another guy an opportunity to take your spot and you've got to look if they do well, you could find it hard to get back in the team. But that's the way it is and I've just got to deal with that and make sure I'm ready to play."

Haddin has been under pressure all summer over his performances at Test level and Wade has been touted as his likely replacement.

Wade will also play in the two Twenty20s against India, and Haddin said he understood the need to give his deputy a proper taste of international cricket.

But he said: "If you give your spot up and someone does well you've got no right just to walk straight back in."