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Dhoni lashes out at opener

Bad blood brewing between MS Dhoni (right) and Gautam Gambhir.

NEW DELHI – Under fire after back-to-back defeats in the home series against England, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is unhappy with opener Gautam Gambhir’s “attitude and on-field ethics” and has lodged a complaint to the BCCI against the left-hander, the Indian media reported today.

Dhoni feels that Gambhir puts his interest above the team and has become too self-centred. The Indian captain has gone to the extent of lodging a complaint to the BCCI tagging the opener’s approach as “selfish” and “hurtful to the team”, an Indian player who requested anonymity stated.

“Of late Gambhir has gone into a shell and focusing on just to save his place in the team. His prolonged poor form has resulted in low self-esteem and he’s cut off from other issues pertaining to the team,” the player was quoted as saying.

But what irked Dhoni was Gambhir playing for himself and not for the team. It was evident in the way Gambhir batted in the second innings of the Mumbai Test that he was more interested in carrying his bat by remaining not out, rather than shielding the tail-enders and scoring quick runs.

“…Every run was crucial but Gambhir chose to be a mute spectator. The whole world saw that and everyone was taken aback. The effort to contribute to the team wasn’t there. Look how well R Ashwin batted with maturity during his unbeaten 91 in the Kolkata Test and he isn’t a specialist batsman. He shepherded the tail-enders superbly and scored vital runs. If Ashwin can do, why couldn’t Gambhir?” the player said.

While assuaging thoughts of any bad blood between Dhoni and Gambhir, the report cited the run-outs of Virender Sehwag in the first innings of the Kolkata Test and Cheteshwar Pujara in the second as moments which precipitated India’s downfall and left Dhoni miffed with Gambhir’s current approach.

“On both occasions, Gambhir was at fault. While there were clearly three runs in Sehwag’s case which Gambhir declined, the call for a run to Pujara was ill-judged. He was having a tough time against Steven Finn and wanted to get off the strike. His desperation cost Pujara his wicket. Dhoni doesn’t have doubts about his integrity or commitment,” the player said.

Gambhir’s attitude has not gone down well with Dhoni, who is determined to win the Nagpur Test and level the series, and he conveyed his thoughts to the BCCI officials in no uncertain terms, the report claimed.

The report said one of the BCCI officials will speak to Gambhir before the match and the matter will be sorted out. “It is important that all the members take the field in the last Test with the motto of giving their best shot,” he concluded.

A source close to Gambhir asserted that though the opener hasn’t performed to his potential in the series against England, Dhoni was playing gimmicks to undermine Gambhir who was seen as a potential captaincy replacement.

Today former India player and selector Mohinder Amarnath revealed that it was BCCI president N Srinivasan who prevented the selectors from sacking MS Dhoni after the last Australian series, which together with the debacle in England, represented eight successive Test defeats for India under Dhoni.

Amarnath said all five selectors agreed to sack Dhoni but Srinivasan overruled the decision.

“In Indian politics and cricket, it’s always the same. There are people who are controlling the game and other people are scared to take a stand,” he said.††

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