Two days is a long time in politics, and the way things have changed for MS Dhoni, it is apparent that lots can happen in two days in cricket as well. Regardless of what happens on the last day at Nagpur, Dhoni is safe, the storm about his position as skipper seems to have receded.
After Day II at Nagpur, Dhoni looked done, his position was quite untenable. At that time, the writing was on the pitch --- the series was all but lost, and with India four down and plenty behind England, there was a serious threat of another humiliating loss at home. The clamour for Dhoni's head was at its peak, the heat was surely on.
Now, at the end of Day IV, the landscape is vastly different, the heat has abated, the criticism less strident. Captain Cool, while not exactly smiling, looks less stressed. There are several reasons for the change. In this Test, India finally showed some spunk and fought back to avoid another disaster. Significantly, part of this recovery was manufactured by Dhoni himself through a resolute innings.
For a person under huge pressure, Dhoni showed tremendous character, that he perished on 99 made one feel for him. India's recovery and Dhoni's role in the stout resistance has doused the flames of criticism, at least for the moment. Within a week of the Nagpur Test, the Indians get into the shorter format of the game where Dhoni remains an unquestioned leader.
Even otherwise, despite all the noise and disappointment, there were two factors that favoured Dhoni. One, it was unfair to hold only him responsible for India's poor show. There are others also to blame, the top batsmen have bigger red marks against their names. So, when everyone puts in a sub performance, why just act against the captain?
It is nobody's case that Dhoni made tactical blunders or failed on strategy, the charge against him is India lost when he led the side. But the fact is he did not cause the defeats at Mumbai or Kolkata.
There is also the question of finding a replacement, in case a change has to be made at the top. As things stand, the seniors in the team have not covered themselves with glory, and among the younger lot, there is only one possible name that figures on a shortlist.
The writer is a Delhi Daredevils official