Facing arguably the biggest crisis of his cricketing career, an under fire Mahendra Singh Dhoni will seek to revive his career and change the fortunes of a dispirited Indian team when the hosts take on an unbeaten South Africa in the second One-Day International in Indore on Wednesday.
India are yet to taste victory since South Africa’s arrival in the country, having lost two Twenty20 Internationals (the third one was abandoned) before suffering a close five-run defeat in the first ODI.
With critics gunning for his head, Dhoni, in particular, finds himself in a very challenging situation. After the semi-final loss in the World Cup, this year hasn’t proved to be a particularly happy one for Dhoni .
The loss in the IPL final was followed by the humiliation in Bangladesh in the ODI series and in the T20 series against the Proteas proved to be yet another no-contest. His own form has been patchy and Dhoni the batsman evidently does not strike fear in the hearts of bowlers anymore.
It seems Dhoni, the ultimate finisher, has been lost along the way. In the first ODI in Kanpur, it was an ideal platform for the Indian skipper to get back to his critics but he faltered in the botched chase.
With India needing 11 runs off the last over, the stage was set for Dhoni to finish off, as he has done many a times in the past, but the ‘Captain Cool’ seemed to have lost his big-hitting skills and turned more into an accumulator. During his 30-ball 31, he struck just one boundary. With the World T20 not too far away, time seems to be running out for Dhoni, the man once considered indispensable in limited-overs formats.
Come Wednesday, the spotlight will be on Dhoni and his leadership skills and the remaining four matches of the ODI series will be a test of character for the Indian captain.
As usual, the Indian batting line-up is a formidable one with opener Rohit Sharma in rollicking form. After the sublime ton in the first T20I in Dharamsala, the Mumbai batsman struck a delightful 150 in the lost cause in Kanpur.
But Rohit’s opening partner Shikhar Dhawan’s form is a cause of concern. He would be looking for a bagful of runs after failing in the T20s and then the first ODI.