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MS Dhoni cannot be blamed for India’s current woes

MS Dhoni's India have lost the ODI series against New Zealand © Getty Images
MS Dhoni’s India have lost the ODI series against New Zealand © Getty Images

By Sudatta Mukherjee

India have recorded seven defeats, one no-result and one tie since December 2013 in all international matches; of these, their One-Day International tally reads five defeats, one no-result, and one tie. While Indian batsmen could not perform up to the expected levels after a great season at home, the bowlers were the bigger disappointment in the last two series.

India toured South Africa and lost the ODI series 0-2. They lost the Test series 0-1. India then flew to New Zealand and after Tuesday’s match; the visitors lost two successive ODI series. With one ODI match left, India are 0-3 down to New Zealand.

Let us see who were the top five batsmen and bowlers in the South Africa-India ODI series.

Batsmen

Player

Teams

Matches

Runs

HS

Avg

100s

50s

Quinton de Kock

South Africa

3

342

135

114.00

3

0

AB de Villiers

South Africa

3

189

109

63.00

1

1

Hashim Amla

South Africa

3

178

100

59.33

1

1

JP Duminy

South Africa

3

85

59*

42.50

0

1

MS Dhoni

India

3

84

65

42.00

0

1

Bowlers

Player

Teams

Matches

Runs

Wkts

Avg

Econ

Mohammed Shami

India

3

185

9

20.55

6.60

Dale Steyn

South Africa

2

42

6

7.00

2.80

Lonwabo Tsotsobe

South Africa

3

77

4

19.25

4.76

Ishant Sharma

India

2

78

4

19.50

4.58

Morne Morkel

South Africa

2

63

3

21.00

4.50

Apart from skipper MS Dhoni, no one in the team features in the top five batsmen’s list. What is more horrifying is that the fact that the difference in runs between Quinton de Kock and Dhoni is 258 runs. For the bowlers, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma feature in the top five bowlers’ list. Shami was the highest wicket-taker of the series with nine wickets from three matches. However, compared to Dale Steyn, who was the second highest wicket-taker of the series, his economy was 6.60 compared to the South African’s 2.80. Steyn also had an almost ridiculous average of 7.00.

In the ongoing ODI series against New Zealand, from the first four ODIs, Indian bowlers have conceded 1,157 runs. Whereas, New Zealand bowlers have conceded 1,137 runs from the four ODIs. The difference is only 20 runs. But the main difference between the two sides were, the Black Caps have been able to take more wickets, keep things tight early on, and break crucial partnerships, whereas India have failed in those departments.

If the New Zealand bowlers have failed, the Indian batsmen have tried their best to chase the target. In the first three ODIs, Indian batsmen chased while in the fourth ODI, the bowlers were given the task to defend the target which they failed. It has been said over and over again that Indian bowlers have not performed up to the mark. The failure of the Indian bowlers has resulted in the batsmen having to chase huge targets.

Dhoni as a captain, has (officially) no say in squad selections. It is the selectors who select the team and from the selected squad, Dhoni has to choose his playing XI. Also, it would be unfair to blame Dhoni for Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant, Varun Aaron, Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s incapability to rise to the occasion. Dhoni can at the most shout at them, get angry or refuse to select them in the playing XI. But will that help India and him in the end? You can, after all, take a horse to the water — but not make it drink.

It has been discussed over and over again that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) needs to maintain and groom their bowlers well. Every now and then a youngster breaks into the squad with a good performance but however, injuries and grueling schedule take a toll on them.

The scenario is, however, the same everywhere: Pat Cummins and James Pattinson of Australia have also succumbed to the pressure. But unlike schizophrenic Indian fans and media, they do not jump into attack the captains for the loss. When Australia had lost the Ashes in England, the whole team was blamed for the poor performance and the board underwent the responsibility of changing the scene.

In India, it has been the other way round. History has seen the captains being blamed for the loss. Be it Mohammad Azahruddin, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid or Dhoni, the Indian fans and media never hesitated to lambast the captains. Sadly, the board also didn’t do much in coming ahead and taking responsibility for the loss.

One has to understand that as a captain Dhoni has to select the best players for his playing XI who will suit the conditions and moment. If one has to really blame anyone it has to be selectors, for failing to groom the cricketers and provide the best squad. Cricket is a team game and Dhoni as an individual can do only so much. Yes, as a captain he needs to know how to use the players and get the best out of them. But if the players themselves refuse to perform well and not rise to the occasion, the skipper can hardly do much.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)

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