Mirpur (Bangladesh), June 23: India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Tuesday mounted a strong defence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's leadership, saying one must not forget what the skipper has done for the country, also adding that he would "die on the field" if his captain asked him to.
A 0-2 loss to Bangladesh in the ongoing One-Day International (ODI) series had sharpened the spotlight on Dhoni, who brushed aside the criticism of his captaincy but sarcastically quipped that if he was the source of everything that was wrong with Indian cricket, he would gladly step aside.
"He is one of the star cricketers; he is a legend of Indian cricket. He has done so much for the nation. We can't really forget what he has done. If you don't go behind your leader (now) then when will you? So as far as I am concerned it's like an army, if you don't go behind your leader then you are definitely going to get shot," Ashwin was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo ahead of third and final ODI against hosts Bangladesh.
"If my captain asks me to die on the field, I'll do it. It's not just now, any captain you have to go behind him. If he asks you to die on the field, then you have to be prepared to do it," the 28-year-old said.
India's plans for tackling pacer Mustafizur Rahman have been widely sought after, and when the inevitable question popped up, Ashwin said, "If there isn't a counter as such, I mean what can we do? Can we kidnap him? No, we have to come out there and play some good and solid cricket and try and make sure we nullify him. He does bowl a good cutter, which is something we have to watch out for."
"He is a good bowler, you cannot deny what he has done or take the respect away from him. I am also happy for him. But I think the challenge starts here for him. As an international cricketer I would know it much better than anybody else. Now, people are going to watch out for him," the spinner said.
On a personal note, Ashwin had a fine tour with the ball. Besides his tenth Test five-for, he's chalked up four wickets in two ODIs and has looked India's only bowler of any threat.
"It's very easy to analyse a loss and say somebody has not done well. Statistics do that and it can be used any which way. I won't say we haven't bowled well. There have been others who have bowled well, and probably the way they have bowled has enhanced my chances of taking wickets," Ashwin concluded.