Weathering the storm: Dhoni
Cardiff, Sept 17: Mahendra Singh Dhoni was touted as the man with the Midas touch ever since he became captain of India in September 2007. The recently concluded tour to England has made a serious dent in that claim; India failed to win a single match in any format of the game on the injury-ridden tour. Dhoni, who had marshalled his troops to two ICC World Cup wins – in the T20 and 50-over formats respectively – and took India to the No. 1 position in Test cricket, had an immensely forgettable tour as captain barring his own performance that won him the Man-of-the-Series in the ODIs.
Dismal performances, injuries to key players, bad weather – the list of the captain’s woes on the tour has been endless. Right from Day 1 of the series up until the last day of the final ODI, players fell to injuries like a pack of dominoes. The first causality was bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan in the first Test while the last was bowler Munaf Patel during the fifth ODI. Rain and poor performances exacerbated an already unhappy situation. As the tour neared its end, critics across the board questioned Dhoni’s abilities as a leader, wicketkeeper and batsman.
But Dhoni’s personal fortunes took a better course than those of the team. Although India were not able to bag a single win, Dhoni finished the ODI series as the highest run-getter with 236 runs at an average of 78.66 and a strike-rate of 97.92 and remained unbeaten twice.
Adapting his game to the situation, the explosive batsman played three breathtaking knocks in the last three one-dayers. His contributions stood out as India lost the toss throughout the series, were asked to bat first and the dreaded Duckworth/Lewis method came into play each time. At The Oval in the third ODI, he scored a patient 69 off 142 while at Lord’s he made a masterful 78 not out off 110 balls. Then came the characteristic Dhoni knock as the skipper smashed an unbeaten 50 off 35 balls in the last game at Sophia Gardens. Fears about the captain having lost his touch were allayed in style.
Dhoni earned his fifth Man-of-the-Series award even as India lost the five-match Nat-West ODI series 0-3 to England. As England prepare to visit India for another five-match ODI battle in October, Captain Cool will be looking to turn in the heat in front of the home crowds. And if he carries on from where Cardiff, the visitors will be in for a rough ride.