India’s limited overs cricket skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said he will happily step down if that facilitates a performance upliftment, following the team’s first ever One-Day International (ODI) series loss against Bangladesh.
India lost their second ODI by six wickets at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here on Sunday night to surrender the three-match series 0-2 after going down in the first game by 79 runs.
India’s descent began with a poor ODI tri-series in Australia at the beginning of the year followed by a flop World Cup defence where they exited at the semi-final stage against eventual champions Australia.
India’s performance came in for sharp criticism from all quarters and when asked if he would be willing to take the blame and quit captaincy, Dhoni said that he wouldn’t bat an eyelid about resigning.
“Yes, if it is a justifiable thing that if you remove me and the Indian cricket will start doing really well and if I am the reason for all the bad that is happening to Indian cricket, definitely I would love to step away and play as a player,” he said at the post-match press conference.
“Ultimately, you want India to win. It doesn’t matter who is the captain. I was never really in line to become a captain. It was a job or responsibility for me. I have taken that responsibility. If they want to take it away, I am happy to give it away.”
Dhoni has been captain since 2007, taking over the mantle from batting legend Rahul Dravid after a first round exit at the World Cup in the West Indies. He then moulded the team into a world-beating unit, winning the World Twenty20, the 2011 ODI World Cup and also the 2013 Champions Trophy and took India to the top of rankings in Tests too.
But he has been under intense pressure due to dwindling fortunes and gave up Test captaincy when he retired midway through a four-match Test series in Australia last year. India lost the series 0-2.
In the wake of India’s fresh defeat against Bangladesh, Dhoni was asked if he still enjoyed the task of leading the team, to which he replied in the affirmative.
“I am really enjoying my cricket. I know this question was coming. I know the media really loves me,” the 33-year-old said.
He emphasised that he was more concerned about his and the team’s performance rather than who leads the squad.
“What is more important is to play for the country and contribute to the team and try to keep the dressing-room atmosphere good so that whenever youngsters are coming in, they can come and perform. That will be the ultimate achievement for me,” said the celebrated wicketkeeper-batsman.
“Also, it is slightly different. Indian cricket had been used to players coming in toned, ready for international cricket. Now it has changed. You have to grind it through. Cricket has changed and all that. We have had tough times. That’s what cricket is all about. You can’t win every series you play.”