| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Jan 16 Mahendra Singh Dhoni's
one-match ban means the India captain will have time for an
introspective look as to where and when his Midas touch deserted
him as his team mates battle to avoid a series whitewash against
Australia in Adelaide.
Dhoni, who will miss next week's fourth test after the ICC
banned him because of India's slow over rate in the third test
defeat in Perth on Sunday, has enjoyed a fairytale rise from the
cricketing backwaters of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.
In what seemed like a storyline straight out of a Bollywood
script, he led teams to Twenty20 (2007) and 50-over (2011) World
Cup victories and oversaw their rise as the number one test team
in the world, thus convincing many he was India's best captain
His unflappable leadership, as much as his tactical
brilliance and uncomplicated approach, impressed most, including
a management institute in his home town Ranchi which wanted to
do a brain-mapping of the Indian captain.
It was a fairytale too good to last long and Dhoni met his
Waterloo in England last year, a nightmare that returned to
haunt him in Australia.
Dhoni's brand of leadership, which earned him the nickname
of 'Captain Cool', was ridiculed by a cricket expert who likened
him to a clerk in an Indian bank - with no real passion or
In England, where a 4-0 whitewash completed in August robbed
the team of the top test status last year, Dhoni could at least
blame it on injuries to key players.
In Australia, following two innings defeats that have left
them trailing 3-0, he has no such luxury.
For quite a while, Dhoni has not looked quite in command and
the Perth test was a good case in study.
The sheer rarity of the move to field an all-pace attack,
axing off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to accommodate debutant
pace bowler Vinay Kumar, baffled most.
"I'm surprised, a spinner could have exercised some control
here," former captain Ravi Shastri rued on air as the Indian
pacers strayed their line and got hammered by Australian opener
David Warner on the first day.
In a way, Dhoni met his comeuppance and incurred a one-match
ban after India were found two overs short of target. It may not
have been the case had one of his frontline bowlers been a
He could not get the best out of his pacers either.
Much of Ishant Sharma's reputation is built around his
excellent spell against former Australia captain Ricky Ponting
in the 2008 Perth test but this time around Dhoni held him back,
preferring Vinay Kumar's military medium pace instead.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly was disappointed by
Dhoni's announcement on the eve of the Perth test that he was
focussing on 2015 World Cup and might quit test cricket next
"I wish he's joking," Ganguly told Aaj Tak channel.
"And if he is really serious, then it is not sensible of him
at all to make such a comment 24 hours before the start of an
important test match," he added.
Barring the half-century in the Sydney test, Dhoni has not
enhanced his reputation with the bat either on this tour and has
been average behind the stumps.
Throughout the series, he and his slip colleagues stood way
behind where edges dropped and he aimlessly shuffled slip
fielders on occasions.
In Perth, Dhoni briefly had Virat Kohli in first slip where
the fielder dropped Warner before Sachin Tendulkar, original
occupant of the position, returned from outfield.
"It's a permanent position. This revolving door of first
slip is rubbish," former Australia captain Ian Chappell, a
specialist slip fielder himself in his playing days, fumed.
While the entire blame cannot be placed at his feet, Dhoni
knows he deserves the lion's share and had the candour to admit
"I need to blame myself. I'm the leader of the side, the
main culprit," he said.
While vice-captain Virender Sehwag takes over the captaincy
temporarily for the Adelaide test, a lack of suitable
alternatives mean India need Dhoni to come back firing for the
three-test series in Sri Lanka in six months time.
(Editing by Patrick Johnston; To comment on this story:
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