Team India doesn’t have an off season. They play cricket throughout the year and on most occassions stakes are high, in such scenario, Dhoni on most occassions, at toss, utters three magical word: “Team is unchanged”. Dhoni can’t be blamed for not testing bench strength as high stakes throughout the year don’t provide him luxury of testing bench strength.
Tours like that of Zimbabwe give Team India chance to test bench strength. Most of the regular players are given rest and others’ are given chance to prove their mettle. This tour is no different. However an exception has been made this time, Dhoni is travelling to Zimbabwe for the first time since 2005.
Zimbabwe might be low ranked team but when it come to playing determined and passionate cricket, they are no less than any top team. India’s inexperienced team may find the tour not as easy as they expected.
For young players, it is going to be tough tour. Good performances in this tour may not earn them a regular spot in Team India but a bad series against Zimbabwe might shut the door of Team India for them as Indian players are expected to do better against teams like Zimbabwe whereas a bad performance against Zimbabwe is seen as the fact that player is not cut out for international cricket.
Dhoni, earlier, in his many press conferences has said that India, now a days, dont produce readymade cricketers who come and fit in international cricket, especially the bowlers. This tour is full of youngsters who have made their name in donestic cricket and IPL. It is the time for these young players to prove their captain wrong and show to the captain and the world that they have capability and skill to take world by storm.
Biggest stake in this tour is of Dhoni. People have started writing his cricketing obituary. Large section of media, cricket experts and ex-players are gunning for Dhoni’s head. It’s not that Dhoni’s captaincy skill has drastically deteriorated. He is still the same but his batting has lost some of the sheen. He is still fit, always puts price on his wicket and is among best wicketkeepers that world has seen. So question is why then everyone is gunning for his head. Answer to this question is simple , the soon to be captain, Virat Kohli, is in form of his life for last two years. He is a run machine, a winner and arguably best batsmen of this generation. His form with bat has put him at numero uno position and on the other hand Dhoni’s not so good season with bat has burdened and shackled him. Cries of removing Dhoni as captain has more to do with his not so good performance with bat than with his captaincy skill.
If Dhoni fails to perform with bat in this tour than his removal from captaincy is all but certain. Dhoni has to realise that his best place to bat in ODIs is at number 4. He has to forgo his role as finisher and has to become a run accumulator, which he is definitely capable of. It will work in India’s favour as India will get to try different players as finisher and by the time Dhoni decides to hang his boot, a replacement finisher would be ready. India will also get a better no.4 player in Dhoni which will give team India the balance that is lacking for past few years. Dhoni’s pride is at stake in this tour because a man who has won so many matches for India both as captain and as batsman is being forced out of team and to salvage his pride Dhoni has to move at no. 4 if he fails to do so this might be last series that we see Dhoni as captain of team India.