Dhoni happy being a “punching bag”

Chennai: A captain faces a lot criticism when his team goes through a prolonged lean patch but India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni does not mind becoming a "punching bag" if it saves the other players from pressure.

India have been going through a bad phase since last year and the effectiveness of Dhoni's leadership has been questioned quite often in the recent times.

However, Dhoni says he is okay with all the criticism, thrown at him in this crisis hour for the side.

"I accept whatever comes to me. I feel good that I'm the punching bag because there's less pressure on the team. You need to have a few punching bags in the side. Sachin has been there for quite some time now, he takes away all the tension.

I don't think everybody gets chance to be the punching bag, so I am happy that I can take a bit of tension for my team," Dhoni said after India lost first ODI to Pakistan.

Dhoni said things went wrong for India right from the start when it lost the toss under overcast conditions and credited Pakistan pacers Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan for exploiting the conditions.

"I think it was the toss to start of with. After that they bowled well. When the ball is seaming or swinging, if you pitch it in the right area it works. If you see their bowlers, they bowled really well.

"They bowled up which was good because generally on these kind of wickets there will be temptation to bowl short because there will be bounce and carry. But they made sure they bowled up and put the batsmen in trouble," Dhoni said.

Dhoni saved India from blushes with a great knock of 113 under pressure as the team was struggling at 29 for five. But Dhoni said he would prefer his top-order to perform than a getting an opportunity to score a hundred like this.

"It's not like I have got plenty of centuries to choose from. So all of them are very special for me. Going down the order, batting at six or seven, and if you get a 100…

actually you don't want an opportunity like that because you want your top order to perform.

"But overall quite happy that I got a century. It looked very unlikely, at certain point of time. It was important that we kept going so that we reach a respectable score. So that was something in mind and not about how much runs I got.