After watching Team India’s capitulation in the recent ODI series loss to Bangladesh, irate fans on social media called for MS Dhoni’s head. The reaction, although not uncommon, felt a little extreme. As arguably India’s greatest captain, Dhoni, some believe, has earned a significant amount of leeway. Although there is nothing wrong with losing, there was a palpable sense that the Indian team was just going through the motions against a motivated and talented Bangladeshi side. After a 79-run win in the first ODI, Bangladesh clinched the three-match series with a six-wicket triumph in the second match.
In a rare show of emotion, MS Dhoni hit back at his critics at the press conference after the second ODI, saying the captaincy was a responsibility he was given and not something he craved or clung onto. However, what surprised many was his claim that he would love to give up the captaincy if that guaranteed a change of fortunes for India. Whether he admits to it or not, the pressure has definitely got to Dhoni, whose Zen-like public persona has often been celebrated on and off the pitch. Maybe all that focus on “process over results” appears to have manifested in the mechanical approach Team India has adopted in the recent series. Of course, it would be terribly unfair to squarely blame Dhoni for Team India’s failings in Bangladesh.
The fact remains that most of our key batsmen, maybe with the exception of Shikhar Dhawan, are undergoing a poor run of form. Also, it is safe to say that our bowling department has not exactly set the world alight in recent months. The elephant in the room, however, is the Indian Premier League. With non-stop cricket round the year, the IPL, a two-month cricketing extravaganza played in the torrid heat of the Indian summer, probably came at a bad time for Team India. What we saw in Bangladesh was a manifestation of the fatigue that periodically surfaces post the IPL, when cricketing schedules are not properly spaced out or planned. The BCCI seems to have learned its lesson only after Team India’s comprehensive defeat to Bangladesh. Reports have come in on Monday that India’s scheduled tour to Zimbabwe has been cancelled, citing fatigue as a reason. This is not to take away any of the credit due to the Bangladeshi side, who played the series with panache and fantastic skill. Before the series versus India, Bangladesh had won eight consecutive ODIs at home against the likes of Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
With fantastic talent coming in through their ranks, Bangladesh may have finally come of age in the international arena. In Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed, Bangladesh has found genuine quality in their seam bowling department which could serve them for a decade, injuries permitting. Aided by the explosive Tamim Iqbal and talented Soumya Sarkar at the top of the batting order, there is no shortage of international talent in this side. Team India, unfortunately, has learned this fact the hard way. For Bangladesh, the ghost of Melbourne has been well and truly laid to rest.