Dhoni defiant as pressure builds

PA Sport
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India are preparing to defend their eight-year unbeaten home record in the final Test against England
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Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India are preparing to defend their eight-year unbeaten home record in the final …

Cricket "under the microscope" is an occupational hazard with which Mahendra Singh Dhoni has long since learned to live as captain of India.

Calls for his resignation or sacking have been interspersed over the past two weeks - in which England have fought back to take a 2-1 Test series lead - with a clamour for the retirement of veteran master batsman Sachin Tendulkar. As they prepare to defend their eight-year unbeaten home record in the final Test, the captain faced a stream of familiar questions.

Will he stay on as captain? What is the future for 39-year-old Tendulkar? Does his team feel under pressure? And, in answer to the first, Dhoni said: "Let's see. (I will) while I am enjoying it, because that's very important. If you're not really enjoying the sport, then it becomes very difficult."

He added: "In a way it's good that we are in a position like this - we have nowhere to go - and have to do well in this game."

Pleas for seismic shifts in selection policy for a team of ageing superstars have so far been met since last week's seven-wicket defeat at Eden Gardens, with the decision to drop mainstays Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh.

Dhoni is still left in charge of some familiar faces, all previously highly-successful, and it seems he is not yet minded to yield to those who insist his team is past its sell-by date.

Tendulkar's presence remains an asset too, he believes.

"He's the best man to have in the side in a game like this, the amount of experience he's got and the kind of performances he's given under pressure over the years," added Dhoni.

"He has proved everybody wrong throughout his career."

India badly need Tendulkar to do just that one more time, maybe the last.

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