Dhoni’s explanation that rain spoilt his plans against Australia isn’t totally hollow. | EPS
Not for the first time since the England tour last year is Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy being scrutinised. As calls for his ouster mount following India’s ouster from the World T20, the question is: how much is his captaincy to blame?
While he made blunders — like playing three spinners and, hence, a batsman short against Australia — not all his decisions misfired. After the crushing win against England (India’s biggest-ever T20 win in terms of runs) the captain had a dilemma — whether to go in with his tried-and-tested permutation of four bowlers or the cushion of five bowlers. His strategy didn’t work out, but Shane Watson and David Warner in that form wouldn’t have spared better bowlers.
While Dhoni is blamed for tinkering with the bowling combination after India humbled England, the match against Australia was played at the same venue — R Premadasa Stadium — where, a few days later, Pakistani spinners made the same Aussie batsmen look like novices. Hence, Dhoni’s explanation that rain spoilt his plans against Australia isn’t totally hollow.
The Aussie spinners got purchase from a dry pitch but, towards the close of India’s innings, there was a sprinkling of rain, and the Australians opted for the light roller; the result was a batting beauty. Further rain as Australia’s chase progressed hampered the Indian spinners, who couldn’t grip the soaked ball.
Again, against South Africa, Dhoni drew flak for employing part-time spinner Rohit Sharma before R Ashwin. But Dhoni had done the same against Pakistan, using Virat Kohli, and it paid off. Both times, he was trying to finish the fifth bowler’s overs. The situation would have been different for India if things had gone the skipper’s way. But the T20 format, more than any other, can be prone to luck.