Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni catches a ball during a practice session ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup cricket tournament in Colombo, Sri Lanka. AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
In the last five years, skipper Dhoni has passed quite a few stern tests. He faces one such examination at the World T20. Here are a few questions that will be asked of him in the next three weeks.
Dhoni's method in limited-overs cricket has been to play seven batsmen and four bowlers. While this formula has worked in ODIs, it tends to backfire in T20 cricket.
Every over in a T20 game is worth 5% of the bowling innings as opposed to 2% in an ODI. This gives the side time to bounce back from a couple of expensive overs, but there's no such luxury in T20 cricket. Even in T20s' short life span, a pattern has emerged, where teams with potent bowling attacks tend to do better. The other problem with playing four frontline bowlers is that none of the regular bowlers can have an off-day.
Considering that Zaheer hasn't enjoyed much success in T20, Balaji is coming back after a long hiatus and Irfan isn't the best option in the death overs, there is a strong case to reconsider the strategy of playing an extra batsman at No 7.
If Dhoni decides to play an extra bowler, he will either have to tinker with the opening combination and allow Virat to open the innings with Gambhir, or choose between Yuvraj and Rohit.
Going by current form, Yuvraj or Sehwag seem to be the most likely players to be benched. Yuvraj hasn't batting enough in the last 10 months and Sehwag has scored only one half century in his last 11 T20 Internationals. If you play Yuvraj, you've got to treat him as the match-winner of old.
If you're going to play Sehwag, he must start batting deep into the innings more regularly. Or else, it's better to open with Virat.
In case Dhoni continues with the same team combination, which he's most likely to do, the team must assume the responsibility of scoring 30 runs above par when they bat first, and be prepared to chase 30 more than what is par for the course.
The writer is a former India opener