A lot of pressure on Dhoni

The burden on Dhoni’s shoulders will be ten-fold at this point in time and it will require him to be at his best in terms of tight-rope walking.

The questions posed to M. S. Dhoni at the press conference prior to the departure of the Indian team to England were a reflection on the quality of journalism in vogue. How on earth can one expect Dhoni to elaborate on the scandal that stunned the Indian public? The credibility of the game as also the integrity of the players is under a cloud of doubt and the main priority of Dhoni and his colleagues will be to perform at their best on the field.

Dhoni was composed as usual and thank God that we don’t have a flippant captain. That the public was “disappointed” is something some sections of the media churned up but the Indian skipper can only try to live up to the expectations on the field. Of course, he has his obligations on his behaviour off the field but every tic from him cannot be aimed at pleasing the ever demanding media.

The burden on Dhoni’s shoulders will be ten-fold at this point in time and it will require him to be at his best in terms of tight-rope walking. Not only does he have to handle the cynicism and criticism in the wake of the IPL scandal but he also has to keep his team motivated.

He has already seen how a detrimental development can affect the players’ morale during the finals of the IPL. How he will handle the insecurity and build trust within his squad will dictate the fate of India in the Champions Trophy. The pressure to perform at their best will be twice as it will be otherwise, but it all depends on how the players look at the current situation. They can get deeply affected by the unsavoury events of the recent past or they can use this difficult phase to get together and regain the confidence of the fans.

The one big advantage they have is that the public have not lost faith either in the game or the players but that faith needs to be given the fillip through some good performances. For the discerning, all it requires is a good brand of cricket from Team India. Winning is something that both the fans and players would want but I am confident that the public will not be too demanding — in that nothing less than a title triumph will be deemed either as a failure or looked at with cynicism. The reason I say this is because the T20 format has cannibalized the ODI version of the game and the customers of the T-20 format are the ones who are too demanding and cynical. Of course, there will be no complaints if Team India goes on to win the title but it will take a lot of mental strength for the team to do so.

Let’s not forget that Team India is the reigning champion of the ICC World Cup and if it can win this final edition of the Champions Trophy, it will remain in the cabinet of the BCCI forever. The ICC and other Boards have run out of ideas to keep the spectators interested in the 50 overs format of the game and it is sad that the Champions Trophy will be terminated with the edition. Ironically, the Champions Trophy will cease to exist at a time when its prime mover Dalmiya comes back into the thick of things in the BCCI by popular consensus.

The Champions trophy generated a lot of funds for the ICC in the formative years but it is rather sad that the championship is approaching its expiry date soon. I am sure that Bangladesh and Kenya will feel sadder than the rest as it was the Champions Trophy which acted as the main platform for their entry into international cricket.