India vs Zimbabwe: As seniors rest, skipper MS Dhoni must soon rediscover his best
Some Indian cricketers have left for foreign trips. Other too, are spending quality time with their families after yet another tiring IPL season. But MS Dhoni, the skipper with all ICC titles under his belt, voluntarily decided to lead a second-string team for the limited-overs series in Zimbabwe.
With the kind of form he has been since the beginning of this year, there is actually no time for him to go on vacations. Leading a new franchise in IPL 2016, Dhoni failed to weave his magic the way he did while leading the Chennai Super Kings for eight years in the tournament.
While injuries to several overseas players hampered Rising Pune Supergiants' campaign in IPL 2016, Dhoni's personal form too came under severe scrutiny. He did end the tournament with a brilliant finish, where he hammered 24 runs off the final over bowled by Axar Patel, but right throughout the season, he failed to dominate the proceedings with the bat, especially as the finisher – something he has done extremely well all these years.
Also, some of his decisions in the IPL this year was beyond ones understanding. The way he underutilised R Ashwin and Irfan Pathan in the tournament led to a lot of criticism from all corners. With key foreign players getting injured, the onus was on Dhoni to lead both as a captain and also as a performer – something he terribly failed at, as the Supergiants ended up at seventh position in the points table.
Time is running out for the skipper. As he seems to be losing his magic touch with every series, a certain Virat Kohli is consistently scaling new heights. From the India-Australia series Down Under to Asia Cup 2016, from ICC World Twenty20 to IPL 2016, Kohli has been shattering records and in the process, has managed to built a huge support base — with fans as well as pundits of the game rooting for him to take the reign from a seemingly 'faltering and aging' Dhoni.
Dhoni, too, is aware of the fact that him being on the wrong side of thirty, there aren't many opportunities left for him.
Before leaving for Zimbabwe, the wise skipper told reporters, "I have to keep myself fit. I am 35 right now, and I know the day I'm not able to run as fast as I'm running right now, I know the guns where they are coming from. Form will keep going up and down. You can't control that, but fitness is very important. At this point of time, my only concern is fitness, but so far it has been good."
Interestingly, the combined experience of other 15 members of the team (83 ODIs and 28 T20Is) is just a third of Dhoni's entire match experience. Now that he is revisiting Zimbabwe after 11 long years, it's a massive opportunity for the youngsters to learn the traits of the game from the legendary skipper.
Runs scored during the tour will hardly do anything to the reputation of the players, but the cognoscenti will keep a close eye, on Dhoni's every single move.
Dhoni also made it clear that the call on captaincy will be taken by the Indian board (BCCI). But if his performances in the bi-lateral series don't meet the standards he has set in his glittering career, the selectors might focus on the 'result', and not the 'process' anymore.