India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has backed his under-fire captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saying he would 'die on the field' if his captain asked him to
Mirpur: India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has said that the team is standing strongly behind beleaguered skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and there is no change in the dressing room atmosphere despite the visitors losing their first-ever ODI series to Bangladesh.
India lost the first two ODIs of the ongoing three-match series to allow Bangladesh take an unassailable 2-0 lead and captain Dhoni received a lot of flak.
"If you don't go behind your leader (now) then when will you? So as far as I am concerned it's like an army, if you don't go behind your leader then you are definitely going to get shot. If my captain asks me to die on the field, I'll do it," Ashwin said in a media conference.
"It's not just now, any captain you have to go behind him. If he asks you to die on the field, then you have to be prepared to do it."
Ravichandran Ashwin addresses the media ahead of a practice session at The Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
Calling Dhoni one of the legends of Indian cricket, Ashwin said: "He is one of star cricketers. He has done so much for the nation. We can't really forget what he has done.
"Yes, I know bad results crop and all kinds of statistics crop up. With statistics you can prove whatever you want as you please. You have to give credit to the individual because he has done a lot of good things.
"You can't blame him for the whole team's performance. That's not fair. I would say we have failed as a unit, failed as a group. We need to grow up as a group. To finish a season on a loss is not always bad. You can go back and work on whatever you need to work on," he insisted.
Although Ashwin admitted that India did not play good cricket, he said that the dressing room atmosphere is exactly the same as it has always been.
"I think we should be honest in admitting the fact that we haven't played very flamboyant cricket, and we have not come out of our shell. But as a whole, the dressing room atmosphere hasn't been anything short of anything it has been in the past. I think we are used to the fact that we do lose a few, but we win more, which has kept us in good stead.
"But going into this game (third ODI), we've really got to free the birds up and try and play as positively as we can," said the spinner.
Asked whether the Indian team had a meeting after it lost the second match, Ashwin said: "They happen as they need to. We have a particular format and we meet before the game. It will continue that way. We don't have any emergency meetings."
Ashwin said he would not want to blame just one department -- batting or bowling -- for the failure of the entire team.
"It's a team, and it's eleven individuals who come together and play. I don't want to isolate batting or bowling and say, 'This didn't work or that didn't work'. That is the start of a break in the team and that will not happen as far as I'm concerned. If you bat well, the bowlers have a good chance of winning games and if you bowl well, the batsmen have a good chance of winning games," he pointed out.
"It's very easy to say this department didn't work. The bowlers have only 10 wickets to take but 10 overs to give runs and face the brunt of what the media has to say. Both bowling and batting are equally tough. As a bowler, you don't have the numbers as a batsman. You can only pick up two-three wickets normally. The roles are very important and very definite. "Somebody can bowl 10 overs for 25 runs without taking a wicket but that could be a match defining spell. But you won't hear the media talking about it. Only because the bowlers have done their job have we won 75 per cent of our games. It's important to appreciate that," Ashwin shot back.
The 28-year-old spinner heaped praise on Bangladesh and said they were on the rise. "I think it's not legacy that we are looking to wash away. From my side, this is not the first team that Bangladesh will beat in the future. They are a good side, and on the rise. I think they will beat more teams. They have beaten Pakistan. South Africa will come along, and they will fancy their chances against them. So I don't think it's like regretting a particular thing.
"You don't go into a game thinking, 'They beat me, now we are really angry and we want to smash them'. That's not how it works. It's international cricket, they have done their bit. They had their own biding time and now they're on the rise. So it's very important to respect the opponents. You can't go back and say that this is like an insult. It's not. A good side has beaten us and we have to admit that," concluded Ashwin.
Suresh Raina posted a picture of Dhoni along with his team-mates with just a simple message "respect" and a sign of folded hands alongside.
Several former cricketers yesterday voiced support for Dhoni to continue as ODI skipper, saying he still has a lot to contribute to Indian cricket.
Former captains like Bishan Singh Bedi, Dilip Vengsarkar and Ajit Wadekar and players like Chetan Chauhan, Chandu Borde, Syed Kirmani and Kiran More strongly backed Dhoni, saying that there was no need to press the panic button and he is the best bet till the 2016 World T20.