Following India's seven wicket defeat to England in the third Test against England, which was played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, the national cricket team selectors announced an altered squad for the fourth and final Test to be played between the two sides at Nagpur.
The five-man selection committee dropped middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and fast bowler Zaheer Khan from the squad, and called in Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, Uttar Pradesh leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and Delhi fast bowler Parwinder Awana.
The selectors announced the following squad for the Nagpur Test: M.S. Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, M. Vijay and Parwinder Awana.
It maybe recalled that India scored 316 in their first innings. England replied with an imposing 523, a lead of 207 runs. In their second innings, the Indian squad was bundled out for 247, seeting England a victory target of 41. For India, the standout performance was that of Ravichandran Ashwin, who scored an unbeaten 91 in the second innings and snared two of the three England wickets to fall in the their second innings.
Meanwhile, Dhoni on Sunday left his future as captain in the selectors' hands, but also said he won't run away from the responsibility.
"As a leader this is a challenge thrown at me. It is always good to lead a side when you are performing well. That is not the time you need a leader. Leading a side is all about when the team is not doing well. To try to gel the team together. To back the youngsters, back the seniors. Try to move in the right direction.
He added: "The easiest thing to do for me right now is to quit the captaincy and stay part of the side. That's running away from responsibility that's upon us. Of course there are others who will decide. There is BCCI and other administrative people who look into that. For me, my responsibility is to get the team together and be prepared for the next Test match."
Asked to elaborate on Coach Duncan Fletcher's role, Dhoni said: "He [Fletcher] has got excellent technical knowledge about our batting," Dhoni said. "He guides us in the right direction. Ultimately once you cross that rope you are on your own whatever happens. That's the time you have to get up and retaliate. That's where we are lacking as of now."
He added: "It's wrong to question the coach. We have won quite a few series, the ODI performance have been really good. In between we have won Test series. Okay in Australia and England we struggled, but this is a series after that that we have not done well, the last two matches that you see. You shouldn't really look for excuses, to put it on the coach. Ultimately it is up to the 11 players who turn up on the field. On a wicket like this, you need to score more runs, and the situation will be different."
For the record, India have been knocked out of two ODI tournaments this year, they have lost to Bangladesh, and were disappointing in World Twenty20 too. In Tests, they have won at home, and that too against West Indies and New Zealand. In the West Indies, they won one Test and refused to try to win another. The Test record under Fletcher is 10 defeats to six wins. Reduce it to strong opposition, and it becomes 9-1.
Dhoni said: "The batting order will have to take responsibility. We need to score more runs. This was a very good wicket to bat on. Of course the bowlers will bowl a few good deliveries that you need to keep out. But the top seven, most of us will have to score at the same time so that we can get a par total, which the bowlers can look to defend. If you don't score too many runs in the first innings and if the opposition score runs in the first innings, you will find yourself under pressure."
Dhoni said this was not the worst phase of his career. The worst came in England and Australia, he said, for at least here they can hope to rectify the problems.
He said: "If you talk about the low, the England, Australia series were the lows because we weren't able to compete," he said. "Here we know what the faults are and we should be able to rectify those. Overall the bowlers are doing well, I think. Once you don't get enough runs on the board you question bowlers too as to if they would have defended a bigger score as well, but I think the spinners have done really well. Bit more contribution from the fast bowlers would really help." (ANI)