MS Dhoni (extreme right)... in rough waters again © Getty Images
MS Dhoni (extreme right)… in rough waters again © Getty Images

If there is a fact on which there cannot be any criticism whatsoever of MS Dhoni, it has to be his inexorable defense of his teammates, who have consistently let him down in the past few years. For long, Dhoni has copped all criticism that has come Indian cricket team’s way, but never has he taken the backseat and let his men take it. Dhoni has weathered all the storms, even though the undoing was not by him. As the Indian stalwart begins the last phase of his career, it is a sad reality that the team is doing very little for facilitate Dhoni leaving on a high. A dejected Dhoni had already announced shocking retirement from Test cricket, as if all hopes of revival were lost, and the same can repeat looking at how the team under him has performed in limited-overs cricket.  FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia 2015-16, 3rd ODI at MCG.

India’s performance post ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in limited-overs speaks volumes about their collective failure, and what is alarming is that this may actually bring an end to Dhoni’s career soon. With the Indian cricket team rising to the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test Rankings and Virat Kohli embracing leadership job with tremendous enthusiasm, there is already a demand that Dhoni must be replaced in shorter formats too. With India’s dwindling fortunes and no sign of quick revival, all this may spur Dhoni to take a call soon. ALSO READ: India vs Australia 2016, 3rd ODI at Melbourne: Five reasons why India lost

Dhoni has been asked about retirement several times, especially since the team began performing well under Kohli. While he has declined discussing his retirement, it has been anticipated that Dhoni would retire post the ICC World T20 2016, which will be hosted by India. If the hosts fail to win the trophy in their backyard, the pressure on Dhoni will certainly become unbearable.

The Indian cricket team has two faces at present, one that is of a strong unit making rapid progress under Kohli in Test cricket, and the other going through downward spiral, under Dhoni. India have faltered in all departments in limited-overs cricket, despite the individual brilliances from few players like Rohit Sharma and Kohli trying best to hold it all together. The 2015 Cricket World Cup was India’s pinnacle in terms of performance, but the same players have erred to such an extent that reasons would be tough to determine. The bowling department leads the pack.

Dhoni was not only forced to cut a sorry figure after the defeat in the third ODI against Australia at Melbourne, but he was humiliated as well. Dhoni is astute when it comes to choosing the right words, but once again, he decided to stand for his faltering mates and bore the brunt. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav have a combined experience of 133 ODIs, yet their inanity was defended by Dhoni when he termed India’s bowling attack ‘inexperienced’. Wasim Akram, in a post-match TV show, was justified to be furious when he said Ishant and Umesh cannot be termed ‘inexperienced’. ALSO READ: India’s pace-bowling inconsistencies, as underlined in India vs Australia 2015-16 series, cause for great alarm.

The Indian seamers are perhaps the most ineffective among all in limited-overs cricket, yet the same set of bowlers had done wonders in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Ishant might have missed the tournament, but his performances — especially in Test cricket — since comeback have been exemplary by his standards. Umesh ended the World Cup with 18 wickets — third in the list — which also implies that he has the requisite experience of conditions Down Under. Mohammed Shami, who was India’s best bowler in the tournament, is missing out this series due to a hamstring injury. Both Ishant and Umesh are guilty of indiscipline, not showing enough gumption and resilience in tough situation in the series lost in Australia. It is not their inexperience, but their inability to find mojo and rhythm that has been the real cause.

Traditionally, spinners do not do enjoy greatest of times in Australia. Both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are at their best when tracks are conducive. Otherwise, with their lack of turn they not only become predictable but ineffective as well. Ashwin has somewhat failed in his quest to quash the belief that he cannot succeed in tough situations for spinners in Australia, and Jadeja has not been threatening enough. All this has combined to form the reasons for India’s undoing.

Dhoni must be nettled with all that has transpired in Australia. India have now lost 11 consecutive games against Australia Down Under and the end to this humiliation seems to be having no end. Australia have imposed themselves over India so well that there are strong possibilities of the tourists ending this ODI series without a win.

Already, the series loss has put Dhoni and his failures in limelight, which is India’s third since World Cup 2015. If not any help, the Indian cricket team is not doing enough to assist Dhoni escape this horror and go out on a happy note.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)