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Fleming backs Dhoni

Mumbai: Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming on Friday backed under-fire Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saying he is still the best option to lead India in Tests, notwithstanding the squad’s 1-3 defeat in England.

Fleming said it was pointless to make a change without addressing the problems that were plaguing the team. Fleming, who also coaches the Dhoni-led IPL team Chennai Super Kings, was of the view that there appeared to be no viable alternative to the flamboyant cricketer.

“It is fine just to say that the captain has to go, but if you are giving the problem to someone else without a strong solution then you are just papering over the problem,” he told reporters, at a New Zealand Education event here.

“But how far you go with that will be a Board decision. That comes down to what the succession plan is. Who is next in line, who is putting pressure on Dhoni?” asked the 41-year-old.

“He (Dhoni) may still be the man for the job but there might need to be some changes within and without. Those questions need to be asked rather than the emotional black and white response that he has got to go,” said the former opener.

Dhoni’s captaincy has been criticised by several former cricketers following the team’s humiliating defeat in the five-game rubber and Fleming agreed the wicketkeeper- batsman was under pressure following the dismal result.

“He is got to be under pressure as the leader of the side. The dramatic turn of form (of a team which led 1-0 and then lost the last three Tests without a fight) does warrant those questions. His form with the bat was good, but certainly the captain always gets looked at when the series goes wrong.

“I cannot speculate in terms of his place. What I can answer with my experience is that when your team is not playing well, you are under pressure as a captain. How far that pressure goes and how long it goes is an issue for your Board or decision-makers,” Fleming said.

“Maybe a Dhoni under pressure is still your best option. He has got the experience and I know he has got the respect of the dressing room — they are two pretty important ingredients,” he added.

Fleming was surprised at how quickly the fortunes of the two rival captains in the series — Dhoni and Alastair Cook — changed after India won the Lord’s game for a 1-0 lead.

“If you look at Cook at the start of the series you could say he was exactly under the same kind of pressure which Dhoni is now. For it to reverse so quickly is somewhat astonishing and that is what people are trying to get their heads around... how quickly the series has changed and quite rightly are asking for answers.”

The squads

Barbados Tridents

Shane Dowrich, Jeevan Mendis, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Jonathan Carter, Neil Mckenzie, Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Rayad Emrit, Raymon Reifer, Kyle Mayers, William Perkins, James Franklin, Elton Chigumbura, Dilshan Munaweera

Cape Cobras

Hashim Amla, J P Duminy, Justin Kemp, Rory Kleinveldt, Charl Langeveldt, Richard Levi, Aviwe Mgijima, Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Zakhele Qwabe, Omphile Ramela, Stiaan Van Zyl, Dane Vilas

Chennai Super Kings

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ashish Nehra, Mithun Manhas, R. Ashwin, Ishwar Pandey, Pawan Negi, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohit Sharma, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, John Hastings, Brendon McCullum, Samuel Badree, Faf du Plessis

Dolphins

Daryn Smit, Daryn Miles Dupavillon, Cody Chetty, Vaughn Van Jaarsveld, Khayelihle Zondo, Robert Frylinck, Morne Nico Van Wyk, Kyle John Abbott, Craig John Alexander, Jonathan David Vandiar, Keshav Athmanand Maharaj, Prenelan Subrayen, Cameron Scott Delport, Andile Lucky Phehlukwayo, BS Makhanya

Hobart Hurricanes

Tim Paine, Jon Wells, Evan Gulbis, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Dom Michael, Sam Rainbird, Travis Birt, Doug Bollinger, Aiden Blizzard, Cameron Boyce, Joe Mennie, Ben Laughlin, Ben Dunk, Shoaib Malik

Kings XI Punjab
George Bailey, Thisara Perera, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Akshar Rajesh Patel, Karanveer Singh, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Virender Sehwag, Wriddhiman Saha, Anureet Singh, Parvinder Awana

Kolkata Knight Riders

Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla, Ranganath Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Morne Morkel, Patrick Cummins, Andre Russell

Lahore Lions

Mohammed Hafeez, Ahmad Shahzad, Umar Siddique Khan, Mohammed Umar Akmal, Nasir Jamshaid, Mohammed Salman Ali, Asif Raza, Mohammed Mustafa Iqbal, Wahab Riaz, Aizaz Bin Ilyas Cheema, Imran Ali, Saad Naseem, Adnan Rasool, Mohammed Saeed, Ali Manzoor

Mumbai Indians

Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Pragyan Ojha, Praveen Kumar, Aditya Tare, Jalaj Saxena, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Gopal, Mike Hussey, Kieron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Lasith Malinga, Marchant De Lange, Lendl Simmons

Northern Knights

Ish Sodhi, Jono Boult, Brad Wilson, Kane Williamson, Daniel Flynn, BJ Watling, Graeme Aldridge, Anton Devcich, Tim Southee, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Daniel Harris, Scott Styris, Trent Boult, Daniel Vettori

Perth Scorchers

Ashton Agar, Yasir Arafat, Michael Beer, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Brad Hogg, Simon Mackin, Mitchell Marsh, Joel Paris, Craig Simmons, Ashton Turner, Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman

Southern Express
Kusal Perera, Danushka Gunatilake, Angelo Perera, Jehan Mubarak, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perara, Prasanna Seekuge, Ishan Jayaratne, Farveez Maharoof, Kasun Madushanka, Yasoda Lanka, Charith Jayampathi, Sachith Pathirana, Sandaken Lakshen, Tillekaratne Dilshan

l Note: Lahore Lions, Mumbai Indians, Northern Knights and Southern Express will play in the qualifying meet.