Birmingham: India's batting coach Sanjay Bangar on Monday joined the players in backing Mahendra Singh Dhoni and expressed surprise that the veteran is frequently criticised for his strike rate.
Dhoni scored 42 off 31 balls against England in the World Cup on Sunday, but many questioned his lack of intent during the death overs of a game that India lost by 31 runs.
"I'm surprised that this question continues to come up every now and then. He's doing the job for the team and overall we're very happy with the intent he's batting with," Bangar said on the eve of the match against Bangladesh.
"Except for one odd innings (28 off 52 balls against Afghanistan), he has always performed his role. Five out of seven games he has done the job for the team," he said.
To support his argument, Bangar cited a couple of Dhoni knocks that bailed the team out of difficult situations.
"If you see the earlier games, against South Africa he stitched together a partnership of 70 with Rohit. After that what was required of him against Australia he did that.
"In Manchester on a difficult track (against West Indies), he got a vital 58 for us. Here also he was striking the ball really well," Bangar said, defending doggedly, a quality he possessed during his playing days as a batsman.
He also didn't feel that there was lack of intent from Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav during the last few overs.
"I don't think so, because if you look at the way they bowled towards the end, they used the dimensions really well and created difficult angles for our batters to hit.
"In those large boundaries and with the type of balls they were bowling — slower bouncers, a lot of into the wicket deliveries, slower balls. I just felt maybe in the last one or two overs, the difference between runs required and balls left were a bit too much."
Bangar said that they will be persisting with Rishabh Pant at the number four slot.
"The team management has been feeling the absence of a left-hander after Shikhar was injured. It was a ploy to use right-left combination in the middle overs to upset the bowling plans a bit. Because of that Adil Rashid couldn't bowl the number of overs he'd have bowled," the batting coach said.
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar fit and ready to hit the straps, Bangar didn't rule out the possibility of playing three seamers, also informing that Ravindra Jadeja is back in the mix.
"The team management will be open to various combinations which can be played at looking at the venue, dimensions and conditions. We're open to all combinations where the three seamers can play along with Hardik.
"We're also looking at Jadeja coming in, all players are up and figure in the team combinations we're thinking of," Bangar said when asked if Jadhav will be axed from the XI.