Skipper Dhoni defends out-of-form Gambhir, Ashwin

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By Kushan Sarkar

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today defended out-of-form Gautam Gambhir and Ravichandran Ashwin, but did admit that the former was going through a "lean patch" and the latter was trying to use "too many variations".

"Yeah, he (Gambhir) has been going through a lean patch but he is an experienced player. I believe he has batted a bit better in the last few games. Unlike some of the earlier matches, he didn't look tentative and was a lot more decisive about stroke-making," Dhoni said at the post-match media conference here.

"I believe he is improving and don't forget he is an amazing player of spin bowling. Ideally, we want him to bat till the 35th-40th over," said Dhoni defending the Delhi left-hander, who has now scored only 156 runs in his last eight ODIs.

Similarly when asked about a sudden slump in off-spinner Ashwin's form, Dhoni reasoned, "May be he was using variations a bit too much but he has now realised his mistake. In the last couple of matches, he has been more consistent about length. He has not used too many variations and was trying to bowl to one line.

"But then you also need a perfect mix as variation has been Ashwin's strength. The new ODI rules, with five fielders inside the circle, has also made it slightly difficult."

He was all praise for pacer Ishant Sharma, who has been pretty impressive in this series.

"Ishant bowled really well and in right areas. One needs to understand that he is playing ODI after a long time."

The skipper is also impressed with the effort of young new ball bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed, but is certainly in no mood not to throw the youngsters into Test cricket right now.

"Shorter format will give them (Bhuvneshwar and Shami) more exposure.

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