The moment stand-in captain Virender Sehwag holed out to Nuwan Kulasekara off the second ball of Tuesday's futile run chase against Sri Lanka at The Gabba, skipper MS Dhoni — wearing a yellow bib over his team jersey — started running towards Sachin Tendulkar with a bottle in his hand. And Tendulkar shooed away the captain, serving a one-match suspension, even before Dhoni had reached the 30-yard circle.
That wasn't the only time Dhoni ran in to the field, as he discussed strategies and attempted to keep his team mates hydrated. Moreover, it appeared the World Cup-winning captain was trying to send a strong message to everyone — including some of his teammates —that it was his team.
Ever since the World Cup high was negated in England, with India losing the No 1 Test ranking and failing to win a single ODI, Dhoni seems to have become more assertive, at least in matters that are under his control.
According to the BCCI rules, neither Dhoni nor the coach has a vote in the selection of the squad. Similarly, no selector can be a part of the selection of the playing eleven. And HT has learnt Dhoni has had next to zilch exchange of ideas with the selection panel for more than three years.
And as the team kept winning for a better part of his tenure, the captain seems to have been ensured the eleven was to his liking. For instance, left-arm pacer Rudra Pratap Singh, known to be close to Dhoni, played a Test in England when he wasn't even match-fit. Some of the players are also unhappy that Dhoni is trying to protect his favourites.
TIT FOR TAT
Ravindra Jadeja, rated highly by the captain, being preferred as all-rounder over Irfan Pathan in Australian conditions seems to have irked some of his teammates. The fact that Dhoni did not give a bowl to Jadeja at all against Australia in Brisbane — he had by then conceded 179 runs off 32 overs in four matches taking one wicket — didn't go down well with his detractors in the team.
Dhoni justified the decision, saying “there were too many left-handers batting at that time”, but it came as a surprise to experts and fans. Cut to India's very next game against Sri Lanka.
Stand-in skipper Sehwag did not give the ball to Dhoni's close friend Suresh Raina — he had bowled 10 tidy overs two days earlier — till the 49th over. It is clear the ego clashes between Dhoni and Sehwag are hurting the team.
While Sehwag has voiced “why should I talk to him?”, being the Captain Cool he is, one feels if Dhoni keeps his ego aside and has a face-to-face chat with Sehwag to sort out the issues, he will do a lot of good for himself and for Indian cricket.