sport

Dhoni defuses captaincy talk

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has defused whispers over his one-day captaincy on the eve of India's five-match series against England.

The pressure has been mounting on the golden boy of Indian cricket, who leads the side across all formats, for some time.

A Test series defeat to England before Christmas did not go down well, though back-to-back ODI losses at the hands of rivals Pakistan attracted even greater levels of indignation.

There were calls for change before the one-day leg of England's tour, which begins in Rajkot on Friday, but while star opener Virender Sehwag was axed, Dhoni held on to the captaincy.

His own good form against Pakistan, with scores of 113 not out, 54no and 36 in the 2-1 defeat, went some way to rebutting questions over his position.

And when confronted with them directly, the 31-year-old did the same.

Asked whether he had doubted his position or considered giving up the one-day captaincy, Dhoni said: "Never. In team sport it is important that everyone keeps believing in themselves and understands their responsibility.

"We have to wait and watch (the selectors) but that's something that is not in my mind before the start of an important series.

"I can't think about that. It is very important to stay focused on this series."

There have been suggestions that Dhoni would be better served focusing on an ailing Test team and passing over the limited-overs sides to a younger lieutenant, but he believes switching between formats is all part of the job.

"We play the longer format, shorter format and T20, they are different challenges altogether," he said.

"But in India at the top level you are expected to stand up to these challenges."

Dhoni also indicated that Sehwag's replacement in the squad, Cheteshwar Pujara, is unlikely to feature on Friday.

The 24-year-old did not train with the rest of the side on Thursday, instead fulfilling his Ranji Trophy duties with Saurashtra half-an-hour away.

He cashed in fully with a triple-century in the match but has been told he will have to wait for his ODI debut.