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Sunday, September 20, 2015

MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI COMES UNDER SCANNER IN NEW INDIAN SET-UP AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA

By on Sunday, September 20, 2015


Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's current ODI and T20I skipper, returns to the helm of Indian cricket after a three-month break a South Africa series starting in October.

Three months is a long time to be away from the game. It is an even longer time considering the frequency with which Indian cricketers play. June 24, 2015 was the last time the cricketing public saw Mahendra Singh Dhoni in action during the third ODI against Bangladesh in Mirpur. India had suffered their first bilateral ODI series loss to Bangladesh but they salvaged some pride as they won the final match by 77 runs to leave Bangladesh with a 1-2 scoreline.
In the three months since that ODI game at Mirpur, a lot has changed in the Indian dressing room. The team finally broke their overseas jinx when they won a Test series in Sri Lanka after 22 years. Under a proactive and aggressive skipper in Virat Kohli, India's dynamics are improving. Their body language and outlook is different. Results are the main focus and aggression is the mode of operation.

The focus will now shift back to Dhoni, who will be back for the T20I and ODI series against South Africa starting October 2. 

However, Dhoni will most likely be heading a team that is in the midst of change. His arrival comes at a time when there have been some prominent voices calling for Kohli to be the captain in all three formats. With team director Ravi Shastri getting an extended run until the 2016 World Twenty20, how will Dhoni fit into the scheme of things? 
In the series against Sri Lanka, the fans saw a new India. An Indian team that was aggressive on the field and who were not bogged down by the situation. It yielded results and this has gotten the wheels churning.
Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar stated that under Shastri, the work ethic of the team has improved immensely. He also said that the "process" of building a good team, something that Dhoni is fond off, is outdated and that "results" are the key.
Amidst all this change, Dhoni will have to answer more questions. The 2016 World Twenty20 is just five months away. In this period, they play three T20Is and five ODIs against South Africa and they will be travelling to Australia for five-match ODI series in January 2016 before the Twenty20 World Cup. It is a vital period for both Dhoni and India.
A poor show in the limited overs series could see Kohli get fast-tracked as skipper for ODIs and T20Is. A poor show with the bat could result in more pressure on Dhoni. In the last 12 months, he has played 18 ODIs at an average of 41.08 and a strike-rate of 84.
These are decent numbers but there has been something missing in the 34-year-old Dhoni's batting. He has not been able to produce those miracle knocks at the end, neither has he managed big hits and he has often struggled to rotate strike.
Under Kohli, there is a new dynamism in Indian cricket. His emphasis on results has contrasted sharply with Dhoni's emphasis on process. Kohli now has the full backing of team director Shastri. How will Dhoni respond to all this will be crucial.
The South Africa series will be the first major test for Dhoni in the new Indian dressing room. The selection panel will decide the team for the T20Is and the ODIs on Sunday. Will they be brave enough and appoint Kohli as skipper in all three formats? Will the selectors side-track Dhoni's past exploits and go with the new flow? These questions will remain even on Sunday.

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