New Delhi: Duncan Fletcher's role may be under scanner following India's prolonged poor run of form but Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday refused to blame the coach, saying the utmost responsibility for performance lies with the players.
Dhoni was asked about the role played by Fletcher as India have lost one series after another. "It's time that players take the responsibility. Coaches are there to guide us. If the player has problem in technique, coach can suggest. Coach cannot go to ground. It will be wrong to blame the coach. The utmost responsibility lies with the players at the end of the day," Dhoni said at the pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday's third and final one-dayer against Pakistan.
Asked if India needs a foreign coach, Dhoni jokingly said, "I don't know. Desi aur videshi. Desi aur videshi to bas murge hote hain (Indian or foreign is meant for chicken only)." Dhoni evaded a direct answer when asked if some new players, such as Ajinya Rahane, will be given a chance to play on Sunday since India have already lost the three-match ODI series. "We have given chance to Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. We all know he is a good swing bowler. But we have not decided on the playing XI. Jinks (Ajinkya) has been doing well. We will feature the best side," he said.
Dhoni nor only backed the coach, he threw his weight behind his under-fire colleagues, saying that the team was not lacking in talent. "When you lose, you feel bad. When we bat well, we don't bowl well, if we bowl well, we don't bat well. We have talent but we have to perform together," he said. "It's important to back players. Yes, we are going through a tough period but we field the best eleven. If we go by criticism or by media, probably we would need 30-40 teams. Had I put myself under such pressure, I would have broken down by now," Dhoni said.
A section of media had claimed that Indian team members, especially the skipper and the coach, do not speak to each other much after a match but Dhoni said it's not like that. "It's not that we are not talking. We have meetings but having 15 types of different meetings does not help."
Dhoni has been India's batting mainstay in the series against Pakistan with an unbeaten 113 in Chennai and unbeaten half-century in Kolkata. Asked if it would weaken the Indian batting further if he sits out on Sunday due to sore back, Dhoni said, "Our batting is good but we have not performed. No individual is irreplaceable. The new boys are as good, it's just that they have not got enough chances. If Dinesh gets a chance, he will play as good as I played in the last two games. It's important that our top order clicks."
Dhoni hoped that the Feroze Shah Kotla wicket will behave the same in both the innings. "It's difficult wicket. It's difficult to predict. But hopefully it will remain similar after the first half," he said. When a Pakistani journalist asked about his viewpoint on the visiting side, Dhoni said, "They have a balanced side. They play with five bowlers. Hafeez and Malik also bowl. They have more options and they are consistent. We have not batted well to test them."
The Indian captain said that there was not much difference in ODIs due to new rules but India were struggling due to the lack of a fifth bowler.