Why, Dhoni, why?



By Kersi Meher-Homji

“Why, Dhoni, why”, I kept asking myself as the Melbourne Test concluded yesterday (on Tuesday).

The bombshell that India’s captain MS Dhoni had retired from Test cricket stunned me as it must have done cricket-lovers around the world.

He should have waited at least till the Test series was completed in Sydney on January 10. Does it indicate rift within the side?

To me he was the best captain India ever had. He may have had his limitations as a wicket-keeper but he kept the team together as a leader and scored runs when most needed. Under him India was ranked no. 1 Test nation a few years ago.

Also under him India had won the World Cup in 2011.

Was it the constant on-field verbals by men under him that got to him? This mid-series retirement of Dhoni reminded me of Kim Hughes’s teary farewell after badly losing Tests against the West Indies in 1984-85.

This is not true for the current Indian side. In both the Adelaide and Brisbane Tests India was defeated but not disgraced. In fact they could have won both the Tests.

And in Melbourne his unbeaten 24 was invaluable in India not losing. And he did not let India down as a leader and wicket-keeper in Adelaide and Melbourne this month.

So why did he retire mid-series? Tell me why. Was it Ian Chappell’s constant criticism on Channel 9?

The wicket-keeper-batsman’s Test statistics are impressive. He scored 4876 runs at 38.09 in 90 Tests hitting six centuries and 33 fifties. He also took 294 dismissals (256 caught and 38 stumped.

Apart from Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman Dhoni is among the most popular and respected modern cricketer from India.

To quote CricInfo, “He has done so [gaining public acclaim] coming from the cricketing backwaters, the mining state of Jharkhand, and through a home-made batting and wicket-keeping technique, and a style of captaincy that scales the highs and lows of both conservatism and unorthodoxy.

“Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India has won the top prize in all formats: the No.1 Test ranking for 18 months starting December 2009, the 50-over World Cup in 2011 and the World Twenty20 on his captaincy debut in 2007.”

Now to my second query: Why did Australia’s new captain Steven Smith settle for a draw when India was 6 for 174 and four overs were still remaining? The fall of either Dhoni or Ravichandran Ashwin would have exposed India’s very fragile tail.

In the previous three innings, India had lost their last three wickets in less than four overs: in 16 balls in the first innings in Melbourne, in 20 balls in Adelaide in the first innings and in 18 balls in the second.

So Australia had a chance, albeit a slim one, to be leading 3-0 and going for a whitewash in the Sydney Test next week.

Smith was happy with Australia regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Fair enough. But would this ”“ going for a draw when a win was possible ”“ have satisfied his tougher predecessors Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Ian Chappell?

Also Smith kept the declaration too late on the final day. In fact, he paid Indian batsmen Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane a big compliment with his late declaration.

Now to my third question. Why send a 22 year-old Test debutant, Lokesh   Rahul, to bat at no.3 on the decisive final day of the Test when he had played so poorly and irresponsibly in the first innings?

Three terrible IP /BBL shots when scoring four runs in two Test innings is utterly disappointing. I blame Dhoni for sending a rookie in crisis (India was then one wicket down for two runs) instead of the experienced Pujara.

Why, Dhoni, why?

Short URL: https://indiandownunder.com.au/?p=4267