MS Dhoni has made a name for himself by facing the world when the going is tough. As captain, every time his team loses, he owns up responsibility and makes it a point to take all the tough questions.
However, it seems, even he doesn't have the courage to face the music when it come to ugly questions against his T20 League Chennai Super Kings and its owners.
Like almost everyone associated with Indian cricket, he has also decided that ‘Silence is golden’.
For the first time in his long reign as Indian captain, Dhoni cut a sorry picture during the Champions Trophy-departure Press Conference at a five-star hotel next to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, making him look like another puppet of the N Srininavsan-controlled Board.
In a well thought-out gameplan, the London-bound team’s media manager, Dr RN Baba, announced at the start of the press conference that no questions other than related to the tournament would be taken.
He then, alertly, cut down every question pertaining to the current spot-fixing and betting scandal that has engulfed Indian cricket.
The spot-fixing controversy has resulted in arrests of players, bookies and film actors, including Dhoni's teammate Sreesanth and his T20 League team Chennai Super Kings's team principal, M Gurunath. The last one is the son-in-law of the Board president
The event was conducted in a tense atmosphere and for the first time a cricket PC was carried out in police presence.
In anticipation of untoward incident, a five-man police force (including a woman constable) manned the conference hall — a constable sitting in the front row, two flanking the hall and two at the entrance.
Dhoni has evaded the fourth estate ever since the Mumbai and Delhi police broke the scandal, even skipping mandatory pre and post-match press conferences on the eve of the T20 League final.
On Tuesday evening, he turned up to face the national media along with coach Duncan Fletcher and tour manager Ranjib Biswal.
Ignoring the Board’s diktat, four times Dhoni was asked about the spot-fixing episode: ‘What do you have to say about spot-fixing? Has there been an impact on players going into the Champions Trophy? As the leader of the Indian cricket fraternity, why isn't that we've not heard from you so far? Can you guarantee Indian cricket fans that during the Champions Trophy, there will be no mischief on the field? Do you know Vindoo Dara Singh personally?’
But each time, Dhoni maintained a stoic face and Dr Baba came to his rescue.
For the last one, which hinted at the pictures of his wife Sakshi with Vindoo at a CSK match in Chennai, he let out a brief, uneasy smile.
The only time Dhoni responded to the issue was when asked ‘whether the team would enter the Champions Trophy with extra sense of responsibility.
“As cricketers, we always have that extra sense of responsibility with us. As international cricketers we always have that extra responsibility,” Dhoni said.
“It is our job to bring people into the arena and to encourage the youngsters who aspire to take up (cricket) as a livelihood and as professional cricketers. There is a responsibility on us and hopefully we can fulfill it to our potential.”