Saturday, April 1st, 2023 01:34:56

Honey Moon Hindered, Midas Touch Missing

Updated: March 15, 2014 2:04 pm

Lions at home, cubs abroad, an English proverb, has been suited to team India since ages. Of late, first under Sourav Ganguly and then under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, team India tried to get out of this tag, though unsuccessfully at times. The performance of Indian team in Tests on home grounds is exemplary in contrast to the poor performance delivered on alien conditions.

According to statistics during the last 82 years (1932-February 2014), Indian team played 231 Test matches overseas, winning only 37 matches while lost 98 matches and 96 matches ended in a draw. The win percentage thus comes to a mere 16.01 per cent as against a 42.42 loss percentage overseas. It clearly shows that the Indian team performance has been quite poor abroad. In contrast, team India has played 243 matches at home, winning 82 matches and lost 52 matches.

The overall performance overseas has been lackluster but, from 2001 to 2010 India won 22 matches abroad. Interestingly, this is about 60 per cent of the total matches won by the Indian team abroad. From 2010 to February 2014, team India played 23 Tests abroad, winning just five, lost 12 and six were drawn. The winning percentage again came down to a mere 21.73. During the same period, Indian team played 22 Tests at home, winning 15, lost just three and four were drawn.

India has now lost 10 of their last 12 Tests abroad—the other two Tests were drawn. Also among these losses, India suffered 0-4 whitewashes each in England and Australia. Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly in a television interview said: “His (Dhoni’s) Test captaincy has been obnoxious. But changing the captain now will unsettle the team. His place is not in doubt in Test cricket, but Dhoni needs to set the overseas record right.”

Overseas, Dhoni has captained India in 23 Tests, winning only five, lost 11 and drawn seven. At home his record is much better with 21 wins, three defeats and six draws. It is quite ironical that the captain, who started off brilliantly, winning all the major titles there to win, taking his team to No.1 ranking in two of the three formats (ODIs and Tests), thus becoming the most successful Indian captain in Tests, has suddenly becomes the captain with most losses in Tests.

Questions were raised against his decisions from the very beginning. Selection of his choice of players, leaving behind experience for youth, backing his troops even if they underperformed or pulling out his triumph card in tense situations, all this seems to have work successfully and soon he became the captain with “Midas Touch”. His cool and calm composure and ability to soak pressure helped India win matches, which seems impossible to win on occasions.

Another former skipper Rahul Dravid express his views on Cricinfo: “I think he has got to realise this very quickly, that if he wants to win Test matches abroad, he’s got to risk it all. He’s got to take chance that he’s going to have to lose some Test matches. The only way you can win abroad is to take a few risks, take a few gambles.”

It was Sourav Ganguly who ignited the fighting spirit and a belief that we can win overseas. And Dhoni took another step ahead and started producing results. All seemed to be hunky dory, as things started to fall in place, plans worked and fans praised this new lad from Ranchi. Once a Train Ticket Examiner, Dhoni soon became the captain of team India and then a most successful captain of team India.

But, as we all know, cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties; no one (neither teams, nor players) can be at the top all the time. Dhoni too fell and fell badly. His surprising decisions stopped working, his cool and calm composure towards his troops is costing the team, and his famous ‘Midas Touch’ is left without any Midas about it.

So what exactly has happened to Mr. Dhoni and his captaincy? Well, actually, nothing. He is still the same old MSD who listens to his heart, maybe, but does not use his brain. Remember the inaugural World T-20 final against Pakistan where he threw the ball to Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over and surprisingly Joginder delivered. Even in the recent Champions Trophy final against England, where he gave Ishant another over even after he had gone for plenty in his first three, and the magic worked, as Ishant picked up two wickets and India won. Yes, he has been always that kind of a captain who listens to his heart, gut feeling or instinct instead his brain, and boy, that ploy worked very well for most part of his career. But, here comes the twist in this fairy tale, his flirting days with captaincy decisions seems over and he has a break-up with his ‘Midas Touch, which ended his ‘honeymoon’ period.

So, is there a way back to achieve the winning form? To get the answer he has to remain as captain for at least another foreign affair. Honestly, we might have replacement for Dhoni as a captain but do we have the replacement for Dhoni as a wicketkeeper who bats as well? Furthermore, rumours are galore that BCCI is planning to sack Coach Duncan Fletcher and is thinking about appointing Andy Flower, who earlier coached England. But, can a change of coach or captain rectify the inability of playing short balls by our batters? Or, will that increase the speed of our medium pace bowlers? Well, one hopes yes and team India get back to winning streak on overseas tours.

By Sorabh Aggarwal

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