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Dhoni ruled out with side strain

- Kohli to lead India in Asia Cup
Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Calcutta: A day after the Indian team returned from their tour of New Zealand, it was revealed that captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will miss the Asia Cup in Bangladesh owing to a side strain suffered during the just-concluded second Test. Virat Kohli will lead in his absence.

According to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) media release, “Dhoni has been ruled out of the forthcoming Asia Cup, to be played in Bangladesh, in February-March 2014.

“He sustained a Grade I left side-strain injury during the course of the second Test against New Zealand. He will be undergoing rehabilitation for ten days.”

Strangely, the team management made no comment on Dhoni’s injury when they were in New Zealand.

While one is not suggesting that something is amiss, the injury comes at a time when Dhoni’s captaincy is under criticism from former captains like Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Sourav Ganguly and former national selector Mohinder Amarnath.

Dhoni’s captaincy has come under scrutiny after India lost yet another overseas series, this time against New Zealand — the fourth consecutive failure abroad under him. India have lost Test series in England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Tamil Nadu’s wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik has been picked as Dhoni’s replacement.

“The all-India senior selection committee has picked Dinesh Karthik as his replacement in the squad for the tournament. Virat Kohli will lead India in the competition,” the BCCI statement added.

Kohli’s name has been floating around as a future India captain for a while now, and this may be his chance to prove his worth.

Kohli has led India in eight ODIs previously, when Dhoni was injured during a tri-series in the West Indies involving Sri Lanka and then rested from a tour of Zimbabwe in July and August 2013. India won seven of those matches. Karthik has not played for India since the tour of Zimbabwe last year.

India will join arch-rivals Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and debutants Afghanistan in the tournament that will start on February 25 and run until March 8.

India start against Sri Lanka on February 28, before locking horns with Pakistan on March 2.

On Wednesday, Amarnath had lashed out against Dhoni. “Dhoni is a defensive captain who allows opposition to make a comeback in the game.

“His record is good on home pitches only like any other Indian captain. There is nothing special about it. It’s time to look beyond him. We need aggressive captains like Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi to win matches abroad,” Amarnath said

“A captain has to bat higher up the batting order. Not a single Test captain in the world bats at No. 7. What kind of example you are going to set? I sincerely feel that this is high time to relieve him from Test captaincy and although he is a match winner in ODIs, they should look at an option in shorter format as well.”

Sourav reiterated on Thursday that Dhoni has to be a little brave while taking decisions.

“He has to be bold in taking decisions. He has to take risks to win. Sometimes, his decisions are negative like his decision to field after winning the toss,” the former India captain told a TV channel.

Terming Kohli as the future India captain, Sourav said that Dhoni should remain the captain at least till the England and Australia series later this year.

“We need an experienced captain. Keeping his record in one-day cricket, Dhoni deserves to lead India in two more series in Australia and England.

“If he fails again, then it’s time to bring a new captain. There’s no question of Dhoni’s captaincy in ODIs. He will remain the captain till World Cup.”

“Virat is the obvious and certain choice for captaincy. He’s the best player the world in one-day format at the moment. But as I said we have to see till the Australia series.”

India’s last overseas Test win came against the West Indies at Kingston in June 2011. Dhoni’s dismal away record stands at five wins out of 23 Tests, while losing 11 games.