Dhoni’s Decline

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Dhoni’s hope is that victories at home will wipe away the memory of losses abroad
After the Indian cricket team’s disastrous New Zealand tour, Ian Chappell said captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni should go. Mohinder Amarnath echoed the same sentiment. Sourav Ganguly said that he is stopping short of asking for Dhoni’s removal because the World Cup is almost here.

This is the same Dhoni who led India to the top of the Test rankings and T20 and One-Day World Championship wins. What explains his fall from grace?

Dhoni’s plight is not unusual. There are one billion people in India waiting to deify the Indian captain and the same one billion waiting to see him fall. Ganguly, who called Dhoni’s captaincy ‘obnoxious’, must know a thing or two about the shaky nature of the post. What Dhoni has had to suffer is the oldest curse of Indian cricket—overseas pitches and the Indian inability to adapt to them. Once in while, the odd victory abroad gives the feeling that the obstacle has been overcome. But then it is back to square one, as everyone noticed when India played and got wiped out in South Africa and New Zealand.

Of late, Dhoni’s overseas run has been exceptionally bad. The last time India won a Test abroad was three years ago in the West Indies. Since then, India have lost almost every Test on foreign soil. South Africa and Australia thrashed India four-nil.

Already there is a clamour from some quarters for Dhoni to make space for Virat Kohli as captain. If India wins the ODI World Cup, then everything will be forgotten. But until then, Dhoni’s hope is what all captains before him hoped—that victories at home will wipe away bad memories abroad.

But Dhoni is also embroiled in a controversy over the Chennai Super Kings, the IPL team he captains. Accusations of betting and spot fixing surrounding the team owners are gaining traction. After the team won back-to-back IPL titles, it has been runner-up for the past two years. Dhoni’s luck had caught up with him here, too.