Heads must roll after India’s historic loss to Bangladesh in the three-match one day series.
A team full of superstars will lose to a below par team only when it treats the opposition playfully, lightly. Only when complacency sets in, does a stronger team lose to a weaker one. A team like Bangladesh did not become technically sound overnight, or for that matter, Team India did not suddenly forget the art of batting and bowling. Wickets tumbled while batsmen attempted wild shots, trying to be heroes in one ball. Bowlers bowled waywardly, delivering wide and no balls at will. It was a clear case of not giving enough respect to the rivals.
There’s your reason for defeat, not too complicated and puzzling!
Two individuals must take responsibility – Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli. Dhoni, for declining in stature day by day, both professionally and personally, and Kohli, for his various distractions. Although to be fair to Kohli, Anushka Sharma was not present in the stands in the second match. However, Kohli should be made to wait a little longer before he can be rewarded with captaincy in all formats.
Indian cricket is facing turbulence both on and off the field. While the BCCI is battling internal strife over Lalit Modi and N Srinivasan, the players are making headlines, too.
Dhoni’s controversial role as vice president in Srinivasan-owned India Cements, which owns IPL team, Chennai Super Kings, has already revealed his ‘clash of interest’. But as Srinivasan’s darling, Dhoni has always been able to escape scrutiny. Every time an investigation began, it was nipped in the bud by the BCCI’s super boss. Dhoni also has commercial interest in picking players backed by talent spotting and management company, ‘Rhiti Sports’ – Harbhajan and Suresh Raina are two examples. This means Dhoni is also earning from Bhajji and Raina.
A cricket captain in India ought to be beyond reproach. Such off-the-field transgressions and petty attempts to make more money should not be tolerated in a captain. His cricketing skills are only ordinary, at best, too.
Just like Steve Waugh, Dhoni has been blessed with a team of winners and superstars throughout his reign. He didn’t have to inspire players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, he didn’t have to work hard with bowlers like Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan. Every player was a winner. Dhoni’s only asset for so long has been his capacity to remain cool under pressure. How he can inspire, I fail to imagine. If you hear him in press conferences, he sounds confused and immature. He is not able to analyse defeats or celebrate wins with a sense of understanding.
Purely as a player, Dhoni is below par. He has temperament, but lacks technique. He has weathered many a storm and negotiated sharp bends as captain, but off late, he has displayed poor judgment in the ‘corridor of uncertainty’, tampering unnecessarily with balls that must be best left alone. He has no footwork, he stands and delivers, using brute force. The hype around him as a ‘finisher’ is also badly misplaced. Yes, he has single-handedly taken India across the finish line on quite a few occasions, but that does not make him the world’s best finisher, as some Dhoni sycophants would like to have us believe.
He has been a good servant of the game, but it is time for him to make room for fresh legs, and offer to don the role of a mentor.
Virat Kohli is one of the best batsmen in the world, a sheer delight to watch. But he is yet to show any signs of a leader, yet. Experts say his show of over aggression is good for India. How silly they are. Aggression strips you of your judgment skills, it shrouds your sense of right and wrong. In the heat of the moment, Virat Kohli has crossed the line on many occasions. He has confronted umpires, rival players, even players from his own Indian team. It is not an asset, it is self-destructing.
He is hardly humble, a quality essential in a leader of men. His tendency to give in to temptations is also worrying. Anushka Sharma, instead of being a rock for Kohli, has proved to be a huge distraction. Appearing in stadiums under the pretext of watching Kohli in action, she is actually promoting her upcoming movies. It’s a clever ploy, but one that stands exposed.
Virat Kohli is not ready to lead India, mentally, at least, but if he is still made captain in case Dhoni is nudged off the perch, Ravi Shastri’s role will become significant. Ravi Shastri is a dominating figure and should exercise all his influence to steer Kohli in the right direction, and keep him there. He should act as a calming influence, checking him at every step, till he becomes responsible enough to manage his own life.
Dhoni has offered to step down, but Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly are backing him to the hilt. It’s clearly a ‘camp’ thing. These ex-cricketers belong to different camps, some are by Kohli’s side, while some place their bets on Dhoni. There is no national interest as such behind their support for a particular player. Such show of solidarity involves immense calculations. Only after the Gavaskars and the Gangulys are convinced of all possibilities, do they choose a camp. At the moment, it seems Dhoni will survive. After all Gavaskar and Ganguly exercise great clout in the BCCI.
The game also needs cleansing from such ex cricketers, who have nothing else in life to live for, except the game of cricket. Their unsolicited interference is dangerous for the game.
Indian cricket will survive only if certain tough decisions are taken. For that, the BCCI will need to grow some backbone. After all, sacking, or requesting Dhoni to leave will not be easy.