Brisbane: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s public dig at senior players like Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag has evoked sharp reactions and is seen as an indication of smouldering dissensions within the team.
After yet another bad day on the field which resulted in a crushing 110-run defeat for his team at the hands of Australia on Sunday, Dhoni defended the policy of rotating senior players like Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
Dhoni`s argument was that senior players were not bad fielders but on big Australian grounds they were "slightly on the slower side". This would mean an extra 20 runs to the opposition.
Tendulkar may be 39 but is a good fielder in the slips and has an excellent throw from anywhere in the field while Gambhir, who at 30 is of the same age as his captain, fields close-in in Test matches and has a safe pair of hands anywhere. Only Sehwag`s fielding is not sharp.
Inclusion of Gambhir in the rotational policy despite being a good fielder and scoring two 90-plus scores in the current ODI series and persistent inclusion of consistent failures Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma has given rise to speculation about dressing room dissensions.
Gambhir had gone public with his criticism of Dhoni stretching the game against Sri Lanka at Adelaide saying that the match should not have gone till the 50th over and should have been finished two or three overs earlier.
In response, Dhoni dismissed this as a difference in perspective, adding "there is nothing wrong between us".
After disastrous tours of England and Australia, Dhoni`s hold on captaincy, certainly in Tests, appears to be tenuous and this has sown seeds of ambition among some other players to be Test captain. New coach Duncan Fletcher, under attack for the team`s failures, is hardly in a position to sort things out.
Looking forward to Mumbai's campaign in the zonal one-dayers, Agarkar said the team had always done well at this level though it has been unable to replicate it at the knock-outs for which two teams from each zone would qualify.
"We have always done well in the one-dayers at the league stage but somehow not able to sustain it at the national level in the knockout rounds. This year we have a very good team," he said.
About the opening game against Baroda on Wednesday, Agarkar said that they had been the one which had troubled Mumbai consistently in the past.
"They are a tough team with some very good players and have given us a tough time in the past. There is Yusuf Pathan who is a dangerous player and who can turn the match around in a short time. I don't know whether Munaf (Patel) is playing," the new Mumbai captain said.
Asked about Pathan vis-a-vis an India berth and whether such players needed to be given a longer run than others for their game-chancing ability, Agarkar said it was not for him to comment.
"Whether X, Y, Z is to be a given a longer rope is not for me to say. It's up to the selectors to answer and it's (India captain Mahendra Singh) Dhoni's problem. When batting at no. 7 (in one-day matches) you don't get time to settle down and stats, to that extent, can be misleading."
For the record, Pathan has averaged 27.00 per innings from 56 ODIs in which he has scored 810 runs with two centuries. The 29-year-old all rounder has also grabbed 33 wickets at 40-plus average with his off breaks.
Pathan has played in 21 Twenty20 Internationals and was a part of the Dhoni-led squad that won the World T20 Cup in 2007 in South Africa and the coveted World Cup last year at home.