The stinging defeat against England at home in the Test series has left is a dark shadow hovering over MS Dhoni's captaincy. If not from all three formats, calls to replace him in at least the most important version — Tests — is gaining force.
Despite the embarrassing defeat, the usual smile did not desert Dhoni as he walked into the press conference on Wednesday, on the eve of the first of two T20s against England. However, his demeanor changed within a few minutes.Once the initial questions were done, Dhoni was asked about the possibility of the India captaincy being split. The smile quickly vanished as Dhoni said dismissively, "Your question on my view about split captaincy is good but let’s stick to the T20 format as we have a T20 game tomorrow."
Recently, former selector Mohinder Amarnath had claimed that Dhoni was almost axed after the rout in Australia but only survived because of support from the BCCI president. Former captains Sunil Gavaskar and Bishan Bedi have backed Virat Kohli to replace Dhoni as skipper.
When the question was shot at the captain again, he was blunt. "Before an important series, I would not like to comment on it."
Next time he was asked, Dhoni claimed being a cricketer in India was the problem. “Because when it comes to Indian cricket, if it's not going the right way, questions pop up about captaincy, senior players, junior players. If we keep answering all of it, we will fall short of time.” Like Dhoni has always done, he tried to divert attention from all the negative factors. “Youngsters like Pujara, who I think is the future for us along with Virat, did well. The bowlers did well, especially the spinners, when there wasn’t much assistance from the wickets.”
Dhoni admitted switching formats won't be easy. India have seven who played in the Tests in the T20 squad while England is pretty much a different side. “It is disappointing to have lost the Test series at home, but this is a different format and we hope to put on a good show.” Piyush Chawla and R Ashwin bowled in the nets for more than two hours, dishing out short and wide balls.
England, led by batsman Eoin Morgan in the absence of the injured Stuart Broad, will hope to continue the domination over the hosts. India have lost three of the five T20Is they have played against England, winning two. If India win the four T20Is against England and Pakistan, they will top the rankings.