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Pujara unlikely to play in home ODI: Dhoni

Prolific Saurashtra middle-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who slammed his career's second Ranji Trophy triple hundred on Thursday, may have to wait a little more to make his ODI debut, Indian captain MS Dhoni indicated.

‘Well it (ODI debut) looks very unlikely as of now because we have to see the whole batting line-up the position he's ideally suited for and all those things. As of now, it looks very unlikely,’ said Dhoni on the eve of the first ODI against England at the SCA stadium.

‘Let's see what happens tomorrow. If somebody gets unfit, we'll see...,’ he added. Pujara, who notched up 352 in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match against Karnataka, has played nine Tests with distinction for the country and has scored three hundreds and a fifty in his fledgling international career.

The 24-year-old cricketer has been included in the ODI squad for the first time in place of Virender Sehwag. Instead of practicing with the rest of the Indian team, Pujara continued batting in the Ranji Trophy game after getting permission from the team management.

‘As of now everyone is fit. I don't know if it will change by night, but everyone is fit now,’ said Dhoni. Dhoni conceded that the lack of big opening partnerships has hurt the World Cup champions' chances in ODIs off late.

Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have struggled to cobble together sufficiently big opening partnerships for the rest of the batting line up to build upon. ‘The stats suggest that for quite some time we have not got off to a very good start in terms of a (opening) partnership. Yes, the openers have been scoring runs on and off, but we have not been able to get a good partnership between them. One of them has been getting out. We are hoping to get good starts in this series.

Jinx (Ajinkya Rahane) is the new opener. He has played on and off and done decently well,’ said Dhoni.Dhoni, however, sounded unfazed about the criticism he and the team had to go through after a series of losses. ‘It (criticism) is not something that's new to us. As Indian cricketers, you know you are supposed to do well. The moment we don't do well as an individual or as a team you know you'll get to face a lot of criticism,’ said the skipper.


DHONI IN NO MOOD TO STEP DOWN AS CAPTAIN

India captain MS Dhoni on Thursday said stepping down from the ODI captaincy was something he hasn't thought about and left it to the selectors to take the call. On the eve of the first ODI here against England, when asked whether he had thought about stepping down as captain from any of the versions, Dhoni said: ‘Never... In team sport, it is important that everyone keeps believing in themselves and understands their responsibility.’ Dhoni said it was for the selectors to decide his future as captain. ‘We have to wait and watch (the selectors) but that's something that is not in my mind before the start of an important series. I can't think about that. It is very important to stay focused on this series,’ he said.

With star opener Virender Sehwag dropped from the ODI squad, there were calls for Dhoni's removal as skipper following the team's Test series defeat to England before Christmas and ODI series loss at the hands of Pakistan. Dhoni remains unfazed. He was India's best player in Pakistan series, with scores of 113 no, 54 no and 36.

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