How far can under-fire Dhoni go without the 'midas touch'?
It needs a lot of courage for a skipper, who lost 8-0 in two away series followed by humiliation on home turf, to say he wouldn’t step down as a skipper. Or wait, it needs some support as well. MS Dhoni has both. BCCI chief N Srinivasan’s blue-eyed boy knows he can dictate terms irrespective of the results and in spite of the criticism.
The team environment depends a lot on how much respect the players have for their skipper. England had many match-winners in their squad, but the major difference between the two teams was the captaincy of Alastair Cook. The left-hander played fabulous knocks one after another, and his approach, despite having lost the first Test, from the second Test onwards lifted the entire England dressing room.
Alastair Cook scored five consecutive centuries in Tests as a skipper. Dhoni has five in his entire career. While Dhoni’s technique for Test matches is questionable, the major concern should be the dressing room environment under his captaincy.
When the players know the truth that prevented his sacking as a skipper, there is no reason why they would gel with him. Because they are thorough professionals, the on-field chemistry may reflect a different story, but the truth lies in their heads and Dhoni’s presence as captain would surely be hurting them to an extent.
India have now lost six out of the last eight Test matches they have played against England. We might witness a similar humiliation against the Aussies if things don’t change. The rift within the team hasn’t settled either. And Amarnath’s revelations have made things murkier. Dhoni’s presence, at least in Test matches, will continue to spread negative vibes among the players.
While the fans will remain indebted to Dhoni for the laurels he has brought as a captain, they would also remember him as the only skipper who was retained because of the support from BCCI chief and not for his skills.
The team needs a change and Kohli is the right man to get India out of this embarrassing situation. His ability to score runs and his athleticism on the field can bring the best out of the other players. The hard-working Delhi lad has proved his ability with the bat and there is no reason for any delay.
Kohli should also be given the freedom to choose his own team. The dynamic right-hander would immediately want to implement the transition process in which India can also experiment with a new specialist wicket-keeper batman. Wriddhiman Saha, Dinesh Karthik and Naman Ojha are the few names who can play big innings which is expected of a wicket-keeper batsman.
By now, we all have realised that Dhoni wouldn’t step down until and unless the ‘support’ is withdrawn. The post-mortem should begin. And the first step should be to remove Mr Srinivasan. Indian cricket will bounce back only after that.