By Dhananjay Devasper
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy comes yet again under question after India’s failure to make it to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. Statistically, India lost just one match to a rampaging Australia. However, the glaring mistakes that cost India the campaign were more alarming.
The job of an Indian cricket captain is one of the most arduous and thankless in world cricket. Dhoni has done well to weather the storm thus far. But with passage time he seems to have ditched a few of his famed leadership traits that made him the darling of the masses. One can attribute that to maturity gained with advancing age or change of thought process directly linked to the increasing pressure on his leadership - depending on which side of the divide one is.
It is no secret that Dhoni does not enjoy the confidence of his entire team anymore. The VVS Laxman fiasco and the well-publicised rift with Virender Sehwag have not helped matters. Morever, his perceived closeness to some non-performing members of the team and the seemingly long rope he gives them are also causes for concern.
Ability to inspire
“A leader leads from the front”, goes the adage. When you are not in form and your own performances are questionable, it is very difficult to inspire your team to raise their game. In addition, he has been reluctant to take a tough call to drop Gautam Gambhir or Zaheer Khan despite their continued woeful form.
Backing the young guns
If there was one thing that defined Dhoni’s captaincy earlier, it’s his unwillingness to bet on India’s younger players and see what they are capable of – something very evident during the recently-concluded T20 World Cup. Dhoni continued with the same set of non-performers and did not consider players like Ajinkya Rahane or Manoj Tiwary. Rahane, in particular, could have been a much better bet than Irfan Pathan. T20 is a fast-paced game and it was clear that India’s fielding was sloppy. The likes of Zaheer, Irfan and even Yuvraj, on occasions, were found struggling.
When a leader appears to be one who gives excuses when results don’t go his way, it’s a sure sign that he is losing his way. Of late, there have been more excuses, in terms of the pitch, or the rain. Very little talk on why the batting failed or why the bowling lack penetration.
Maybe the time has come to introspect on whether it is better to employ the Australian model of different horses for different courses. Will the forthcoming home series against England bring back glory for Dhoni or will it throw open more questions.
(Dhananjay Devasper is an "IT guy" by profession and a sports fanatic at heart. He has an unbridled passion for sports and Indian achievements in sport. Extremely opinionated, he attempts offering perspectives around sports which are simple to understand and easy to relate with)