When Indian fans made their displeasure felt during India's T20 loss against South Africa at Cuttack by throwing bottles, the entire cricket fraternity was upset with what was one of the most disgraceful days for Indian cricket. While the cognoscenti demanded strict action against the stadium authorities, MS Dhoni found the incident funny and defended the spectators.
Had India won the match, it could have been a different story, but it sounded ludicrous when Dhoni said, "We should not be taking such things seriously. I still remember we played in Vizag once and we won the game very easily and that time also a lot of bottles were thrown. It starts with the first bottle and then its more of a fun for the spectators."
While it was possibly a good move from the Indian captain to back the fans since his own form hasn't been great of late, practically, it was the last thing expected from him.
Even after India lost the series 2-0 to the Faf du Plessis-led team, Dhoni said, “I personally feel that I used too much brain in this format.”
Perhaps only he understood what he actually meant, when he added, “You can convert 1.8 runs or 1.9 runs into 2, but not 1.75 or 1.7.”
His statements of late haven't been upto the mark, just like his form, which is deteriorating with each innings.
When Mahi returned to international cricket after a three-month gap to lead India in T20 series against South Africa, the entire cricket fraternity waited with baited breath to see whether his failure in the Indian Premier League earlier this year was just an aberration. But Dhoni failed to find form, as he scored 25 runs from two innings with the final match being washed out.
The ODIs were expected to be a fresh start, his 30-ball 31 at Kanpur was an innings that cost India the game as he failed to score 11 runs off the last six balls, against a 20-year-old bowler who later confessed to being under tremendous pressure.
There is no doubt that Dhoni is one of the best finishers the game has ever seen. He has single-handedly pulled off spectacular chases for India in the past, something which has earned him enormous respect from his troops. But based on current form, the question is whether he should be India's captain for next year's ICC World Cup T20?
It is quite easy to say that Suresh Raina should take up the role of finisher, which Dhoni once used to be. But it's impossible for the left-hander to come remotely close to the Indian captain when it comes to soaking all the pressure under nail-biting moments. Thus, it would be foolish to question Dhoni's place in the squad. It's only his captaincy which is under scanner. At least for now.
What remains to be seen is whether Dhoni would want to give up captaincy and play under Virat Kohli. It is the need of the hour. By doing so, he can not only mentor Kohli's to lead India in limited-overs cricket, but also relieve some pressure off himself. This could in turn give Dhoni the freedom to rediscover his explosive batting.
“It’s very important I keep myself free and go and play my strokes. Depending on that I play a bit slow initially. In this format, I believe I should play the big shots from the word go irrespective of whatever the scenario is because that’s what this format is all about," this was one of the rare statements by him in recent times that made complete sense.
In the N Srinivasan era, irrespective of what the result of a series was, Dhoni dictated terms as the skipper. But ever since Ravi Shastri took over as the Team Director, there have been a lot of changes for everybody to see and he along with Kohli, are determined to pick deserving players in order to take Indian team in the right direction.
Dhoni remains a vital cog in India's preparations for next year's ICC World T20. But while we all would love to continue to cheer for Dhoni the batsman, it's possibly time up for him as the captain.