The tragic turn of events in Australia will, in all probability, mean that MS Dhoni will now be fit for the opening Test of the four-Test series, which will kick off next week. Any Australia tour is a big challenge for the visiting side, but the present tour will be a massive one for Dhoni in many regards. Both as a batsman and a captain, he will be on test throughout the series. There have been numerous questions asked as to why he is continuing in the team both as leader and player in spite of having constantly failed over the last three or so years. Dhoni will have to answer all that and more during the latest Aussie tour. If he fails again, the queries will only get bigger.
When Dhoni took on the leadership of Team India from Anil Kumble, he was being viewed as a smart, aggressive leader. For the first couple of years, he proved his mettle as India worked their way up to the number one ranking under him. He was delivering consistently with the bat too. Critics were singing praises of his leadership as well as his batting skills. However, everyone ignored one pertinent point, that India had climbed up the rankings by tasting most of the wins at home. Although one cannot belittle performances at home, since they were also hard earned, the true test of a team, and a leader, comes in adverse conditions, away from home.
Ever since India set foot in England in 2011, calamity has struck the team. They have been embarrassed time and again, twice in England, and also in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. It is under such tough circumstances that the true worth of a leader comes to the fore. Although a captain is only as good as his team, he has a responsibility to inspire the side. This is where Dhoni has been a completely failure. He hasn't been proactive during crises, nor has he tried different things under pressure. His field placings have been unimaginative, and there have been numerous instances where Dhoni has allowed the game to run away even though India had been in control.
Numerous critics have written off India's chances in Australia since they believe playing with a leader who is well past his sell-by date as Test captain, the results can only be disastrous. Dhoni has been captain for so long now that one wonders whether he has anything new to offer in terms of leadership. And the answer, pretty simply is no. On numerous occasions over the last three years, Dhoni has had opportunities to prove his mettle, both as captain and player. But, each time, his shortcomings have come to the fore. As a result, there aren't high hopes from Dhoni as either captain or batsman as India head into another tough challenge.
Dhoni is extremely lucky that he has been retained in the Test side in spite of failures of grave magnitude as far as Tests are concerned. If he was playing for Australia or South Africa, his Test career would have finished long back. But, this is India, so expect the unexpected. Since Dhoni has been retained in the Test team, and remains the captain, fans will have to live with it, irrespective of whether they like it or not. As for Dhoni, it is another chance for him to try and make some kind of an impact. Having seen him in Tests over the years, the best one can do is hope he can somehow display another pleasant side to his ragged captaincy skills.
--By A Cricket Analyst