I wonder if anyone truly expected this Indian team to win any of the 2 series that they eventually lost recently. In South Africa and New Zealand.
That they came close to winning 3 of those Tests, was an over achievement.
Indian teams struggle overseas and only the settled batting line ups with a couple of potent bowlers to exploit the alien conditions have traditionally been able to win games for India outside the sub continent.
Indian teams have enjoyed brief periods of supremacy outside India. Ajit Wadekars team in 1971, Kapil Dev and his men in 1985 and Ganguly's teams 2003 onwards which won consistently abroad all had great batting line ups with skiful bowlers.
By contrast this team led by Dhoni is a new one. The batsman performed well above expectations and while the bowlers were amazing in patches, they were unable to sustain the advantage.
Hence when experts, including ex-cricketers criticize this team for coming up empty, I am temped to question their expectation and the basis for it. Add to that the attempt to include the colossal failings of India's ageing seniors and count them as losses against Mahindra Singh Dhoni seems rather unjust to me.
The team that refused to chase 90 odd in 15 overs in Domenica in 2011 and lost 8 straight games thereafter, and this team that came close to winning both in South Africa and New Zealand are different teams. The earlier team was humiliated. This one gave an excellent account of themselves.
Given this teams performance, the right question to ask is, why did we hold on to Sachin and co for so long. Instead this team has been burdened with the disasters of their more eminent predecessors.
I don't see how you can criticize Mahendra Singh Dhoni for leading a young, still learning team, to 2 away series losses.
All is not well with Dhoni, though.
That however has little to do with the team's performance in the away series but Dhoni's testimony to the Supreme Court appointed commission that parroted his boss's stance that Gurunath Meiyappan was a mere cricket enthusiast in relation to his role at the IPL team CSK. When contrasted against the Mugdal committee eventual ruling rejecting this notion, India's cricket captain finds his credibility and integrity brought into question.
India's cricket stars can never be expected to truly speak their minds because the cost of doing that is often in millions of dollars. The BCCI is not averse to humiliating even its greatest cricketer in Kapil Dev, so that he falls in line. But surely at some point one of them will realize that their integrity is above the cash that the BCCI throws at them. Or may be not.
I think Mahendra Singh Dhoni has implicated himself with his testimony into a position where I don't know if any of his on field exploits and bravado are enough to justify his hold over the national team captaincy.
The BCCI has so far done nothing in response to the Mugdal committe report. Promises of cleaning up the league have remained promises. Perhaps forgotten. They seem unwilling to even impose their own rules. CSK continue to be a part of the league.
The BCCI is a strong politically influential body. However I do not believe they can continue to ignore the Mugdal committee findings. A committee formed by the Supreme Court of India. The only way I can see CSK still be a part of the IPL family and Mahendra Singh Dhoni continuing as India's captain is if the BCCI rewrite its own rules for the IPL to in effect legalize match fixing from retrospective effect.
The sponsors have given no indication that a clean league is a prerequisite before they associate their brands with the IPL. The people have shown no indication that they pay money to watch sports. They come to the games to socialize and be entertained. They turn on the TV as an alternative to Reality Television. The players have time and again justified their quest for cash. The IPL will sustain, even if matches are fixed or even if there is just a perception that matches are fixed.
So why not make it official. Remove all pretense of wanting a clean league and a clean game. Let every one make money. Change the rules. Delete the clauses under which Gurunath Meiyappan is being pursued.
Just don't call it sport.