After a rather painful and completely unexpected Super Eight elimination in the ICC World Twenty20 Championships, the bits, pieces and a meaningless match against champions-elect South Africa are the only sources of minimum redemption and face-saving hope that Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his fallen heroes can pick up. The barrage of criticism that has followed the exit of the Indian cricket team from the prestigious event in England is, not to say the least, shocking.
The media, in particular, has again demonstrated typical opportunism and singled out Dhoni for the utter failure of the defending champions. Undoubtedly, Dhoni has made errors not suited to his cricketing brain but to lambast a man, who has sacrificed his entire batting career for the thankless job of the Indian cricket captain, for defeats in two matches (one by a close three runs) is shameful to say the least. The media is clearly still nursing the wounds of that clash with Dhoni regarding team spirit and Virender Sehwag. In the wake of that ugly confrontation, they have been presented with a roaring opportunity to get even with the Ranchi cricketer. And boy have they have made use of it.
TV channels are running amok with excessive replays of specific errors made by Dhoni in the key defeat against the West Indies and experts from all spheres of life are castigating him for tactical errors. How unfair. To single out Dhoni and give a clean chit to the likes of Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir is extremely unjust and what is even more ridiculous is that this inevitably makes captaincy in cricket indirectly or even directly responsible for the poor form of other players. And this even defies logic.
As expected, opinion polls are waiting breathlessly at the end of the tunnel of Dhoni’s journey with many fans and news websites pondering whether sacking Dhoni could pave the way for a new era in Indian cricket. Whether India are better off without his ultra-cool demeanors on field and excessive rotations of the batting order.
Well, the simple answer is No.
To pass a judgment on the career of Dhoni based on a single tournament smacks of rhetorical nonsense of the worst kind and there is clearly no single stand-out successor to Dhoni in Indian cricket’s current scenario. The likes of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh are better off captaining their respective IPL teams while the leader in a Rohit Sharma or a Suresh Raina is clearly an infant who needs time to blossom.
If Mahendra Singh Dhoni is fast becoming the problem, then he is also the only solution. In him lies the brain to intellectually sort out the wrongs of the current Indian set-up and it is he who has the calmness to realize his and the team’s mistakes and rise out of the ashes. And mind you, it’s only his first major failure. The immediate apology offered by him at the end of the game speaks volumes about Dhoni’s level-headed nature and mental toughness and he is one man who knows and feels the pain of an early exit and collective failure. And what it means to a billion people.
Keep the faith. This isn’t the end of ends. This is a new beginning.