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Dhoni: The man under spotlight

dhoni2007 T20 World Champions, 2011 50-overs World Champions, 2011 Champion’s Trophy, and number 1 in ICC Test rankings – under Dhoni, India achieved it all. Widely regarded as “Captain cool” for his ability to be calm even under pressure, Dhoni has over and over again proved his worth as one of the best (if not the best) captains of India.

However, Team Blue has entirely been disheveled since the beginning of 2015. After the shameful loss to Australian into the Test format, and the tri-series loss (England, Australia and India participated), their World cup hope also came to end in the semi finals in the hands of Australia.

The tour to Bangladesh was meant to be a breath of fresh air, but the results showed that India picked up right from where they left – losing.

Albeit the one-off Test series ended in draw due to rain, the shocking ODI series loss tells that Indian team needs to buck up if they want to stay in the top of the game.

After the semi-final defeat to Australia in this year’s World Cup, many shortcomings were noticed among the players – fitness issue, concern over fast bowlers, inability to handle the pressure and most significantly, Virat Kohli’s imprudent shot that cost India very bad.

Talking to reporters after the match in a press conference, Dhoni suggested everyone not to make a bid issue out of Kohli’s shot. “He played a short, it didn’t pay off, so that’s it. I would say it happens in cricket,” he said.

He accepted the burden he and his men were carrying, being the defending champions and in the last four of the tournament. However, one cannot help but wonder what might have been the reason of their shameful defeat to Bangladesh – not disrespecting the Bangla Tigers’ brilliant show though.

The reason goes back to the same semi final loss against the mighty Aussies. Even then Dhoni admitted of the middle overs being most valuable. “The first 10 and the last 10 doesn’t matter, it’s more like a T20, but the real essence of ODI cricket is how you bat in the middle overs,” he stated.

Isn’t the problem evident now? India’s middle order is shaky and the team is suffering for that.

50 overs match requires consistency, quite what Dhoni suggested and Indian team is missing that currently. Ajinkya Rahane – an young and in-form player was not given opportunity to play in the 1st ODI against Bangladesh and that was an incorrect decision.

Ravichandran Ashwin who received Dhoni’s appreciation after the semi-final loss in World Cup continued to impress – becoming the only player who really shined. The fast bowlers stayed a matter of concern for Dhoni in the ODI series loss to Bangladesh.

“The spinners bowled well, Raina’s contribution was important, but disappointed with the way the fast bowlers bowled. The Bangladesh batsmen played the fast bowlers well,” Dhoni said after the 1st ODI loss.

The 33-year-old “Captain Cool” urged after the World Cup loss that his aim always remains to do “something special” so that he can be a part or contribute to the win.

After India lost the 2nd ODI as well to Bangladesh thus, losing the series altogether Dhoni offered to “quit” captaincy for the sake of the team. When talks started making rounds that maybe he was losing his aura, he happily put forward the proposal – quitting captaincy.

In a report by Reuters, he said: “Yes, if it is a justifiable thing that it you remove me and the Indian cricket will start doing well, and if I am the reason for all the bad that is happening to Indian cricket, definitely I would love to step away and play as a player.”

M S Dhoni also known as “Mahi” by his fans took charge as the skipper of Indian Cricket from Rahul Dravid in 2007 after the Indian contingent made a very early exit in the group stage of the tournament. Since then everything has been history – Team blue only went up the ladder.

This is not the first time that Dhoni offered to quit captaincy, following a disastrous performance by his team. Earlier in 2014, he quit captaincy from the then ongoing Test series against Australia before completely retiring from it.

However, major changes didn’t come. India didn’t perform up to the level of expectations. Therefore, his proposal to quit captaincy this time too doesn’t give any signals to be effective. But the World Cup winning captain insisted that he is not putting away his gloves yet.

India was desperate to win the 3rd and last ODI of the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh on yesterday, and they grabbed the opportunity with an ardent 77-run win. Dhoni scored 69 off 77 balls and Shikhar Dhawan scored 75 off 73 balls, however a certain former Indian player amidst the entire ruckus that has been going on with Dhoni and his legacy as India’s skipper, raised questions on Mahi’s “Captain Cool” status.

Talking to PTI in an interview, Bishen Singh Bedi said: “It’s the first time he is not making sense. And that is a clear indication that he is not ‘Captain Cool’ anymore. He looks ruffled. Having said that I still don’t blame any individual but the team.”

Dhoni was involved in an on-field argument with Bangladeshi teenager Mustafizur Rahman for which the Indian was charged 75 percent of his match fee.

Bedi didn’t ignore that saying that it was “very unbecoming of Dhoni.” He added, “Clear signs of restlessness of mind and body. Perhaps dire need for him to go through yogic exercises.”

Dhoni is due to turn 34 next month. Obviously most of the Indian fans wouldn’t want to see him quit ODI yet, and going by Bedi’s suggestion whether yoga or meditation, India needs to improve their bowling and the middle order batting soon.

The upcoming series of the Men in Blue is their tour to Zimbabwe albeit that is in doubt. They won the first match back in March 14, this year and it will only add to their shame if the home side pull of a Bangladesh on India – win over them.

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