sport

Dhoni: Cook needs support

India skipper MS Dhoni believes England must get behind beleaguered captain Alastair Cook after slumping to their first Test series defeat to Sri Lanka on home soil.

Dhoni was giving his first press conference in this country ahead of India's five-Test series against Cook's side next month.

And he was quick to leap to the defence of England's under-fire skipper who scored 294 runs in a Test match against his side when India toured England in 2011.

\"I think it's very important to back players. It doesn't matter whether he is the captain of the side or a batsman or a bowler,\" Dhoni said.

\"What's important is for the media to realise what they were saying about him the last time we were here how well he has performed.

\"A bad phase is something that every player goes through and you just need to back players at the right point because when you are getting those big hundreds and two-hundreds then everybody will be on your side.

\"But the real test of character is when your fans or the media or your team-mates are supporting you when you are not doing well.\"

India coach Duncan Fletcher was in charge of England when he handed Cook his Test debut in 2006 and he believes the Essex opener has got the mental strength to handle the pressure he is under.

\"I think he is a very determined individual, which I think most opening bats have to be,\" Fletcher said.

\"If you had looked at our batters and picked them on their mental aspect one of them would be that they've got to be determined and stubborn.

\"I think Alastair has got that, and proven with the runs that he has got, that he's a very, very good opening batter and it's like everyone you go through some bad times and some good times

\"I agree with MS. Too many people are happy to knock you off your pedestal. When they go through those bad times they keep knocking them and that's when they need the support.\"