Asia Cup T20 Final: A test Dhoni wouldn’t want to fail

  • Kushal Phatarpekar, Hindustan Times, Mirpur
  • Updated: Mar 06, 2016 10:52 IST
India’s captain Mahendra Dhoni takes the wicket of United Arab Emirates’ Farhan Ahmed. (AP Photo)

The last time India were in Bangladesh, they suffered a shock 2-1 defeat in the three-match bilateral series. It was the first series after the 2015 World Cup. It was the time when MS Dhoni had retired from Tests, and the ‘two-captain experiment’ was underway, with Virat Kohli the Test skipper and Dhoni staying on as skipper of the One-day and Twenty20 sides.

The defeat had resulted in a lot of criticism and self-reflection. It had also raised questions about the effectiveness of the two-captain theory and whether it suited India.

Ever since the theory has been put into practice, India’s results in limited overs have been mixed. As India face Bangladesh in the final of the Asia Cup on Sunday, Dhoni finally stands a chance to lead India to victory in the first major tournament under this arrangement.

Victory in two series

Since retiring from Tests, Dhoni as captain of the two limited-overs sides has managed to lead India to victory in just two series. One, a three-match T20 series against Australia Down Under, and another against Sri Lanka at home; both coming earlier this year.

While Australia were experimenting their playing eleven to facilitate selection for the upcoming World Twenty20, an injury-plagued Sri Lanka had sent a second string side to India.

Australia did not pick their star players Steve Smith and David Warner, who chose to skip two matches in order to rest ahead of their one-dayers against New Zealand. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, saw as many as five of their main men back out due to injuries.

India swept the series Down Under 3-0 and beat Sri Lanka 2-1, shockingly losing the first game. Prior to these two events, since 2015, India had not won a single limited-over series under Dhoni.

After announcing his retirement at the start of 2015, Dhoni led India in the one-dayers against Australia, which they lost. Later, India bowed out of the Cricket World Cup at the semifinal stage.

Following that, India suffered a series defeat at the hands of Bangladesh. Then to South Africa in both ODIs and T20s. After which they lost the ODI series to Australia. The only time India won convincingly was against Zimbabwe, but that was when Dhoni chose to rest.

Meanwhile, in the intervening Test series, Kohli managed to lead the Test side to win two series against Sri Lanka and South Africa, while drawing a one-off Test against Bangladesh that was curtailed by rain.

Rubbishing claims

In the lead up to the World T20, talk centered around Dhoni’s likely call to retire from all forms. However, he has since rubbished the claims and iterated that he will play on beyond the marquee event.

With long-term aims still in place, victory in the Asia Cup would be essential.

So far in this series, India have shown complete control. Dhoni has marshalled his troops well and managed to piece together a side that is delivering on all fronts. India won all four of their league games, including a win over finalists Bangladesh.

They have been the most dominant side in the Asia Cup, and start favourites heading into the game. However, beating a Bangladesh side at home would be a test and Dhoni will not want to fail the same test again.

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