Dhoni tipped to rediscover form for remaining tests

MUMBAI, (Reuters) – India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni  may be showing the first signs of buckling under pressure but  the wicketkeeper-batsman remains the best man for the job,  according to former players.

Four short months ago, the 30-year old from the small  eastern town of Ranchi was the toast of the nation after he led  India to their second 50-over World Cup crown after a gap of 28  years.

However, a slump in batting form, untidy work behind the  stumps and two humiliating defeats to start India’s four-test  series in England have piled the pressure on a man renowned for his calm on-field demeanour.

Former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad said it was premature to write off the captain, who led India to the Twenty20 World Cup title in 2007 and had yet to lose a test series.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

“If you just forget these two test matches… as a captain, as a batsman and as a wicketkeeper he has done marvellously  well,” Gaekwad told Reuters by phone.

“It must be tremendous pressure for a captain, especially  when he does not have his main strike bowler (Zaheer Khan) and  batsman (Virender Sehwag),” said Gaekwad, who played 40 tests  and coached India.

India were unable to call on opener Sehwag, coming back from  a shoulder surgery, in both tests while Zaheer left the field on  the first day of the series at Lord’s and was later ruled out of  the entire tour with hamstring and ankle problems.

Sehwag’s regular opening partner, Gautam Gambhir, missed the  second test with a bruised arm while off-spinner Harbhajan Singh  and batsman Yuvraj Singh have also been ruled out for the  remainder of the tour with injuries.

India’s number one test team ranking is also on the line  after they fell 2-0 behind to England in a series the hosts need  to win by a two-test margin to leapfrog the tourists.

Dhoni has averaged 12.25 in the two England tests and 19.40  in the three-match series in the Caribbean in June, and former  India wicketkeeper Kiran More believes a lack of confidence was  behind the dip in performance.

“I don’t think he has dropped any catches. He has fumbled a  bit with the ball. He is not doing a great job definitely,” More  told Reuters.

“There’s a lot of pressure on him… Not only from  wicket-keeping but also from batting and captaincy. All the  issues boil down and then you lose some confidence.”

More, however, was confident Dhoni would silence his  critics.
“I don’t blame him. We are playing against the best team  (England)… the commentators and crowd pressure is also there,”  he said by phone.

“So overall, things are not going well for MS (Dhoni) but he  is a strong character and he has always bounced back and  hopefully he will fight back.”

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