Dhoni needs to introspect

Dhoni... in the firing line.-PTI

Cook will leave his Indian counterpart in great discomfort as the Indian skipper will be required to provide a lot of answers for the continuing run of poor performances.

I had written prior to the start of the India-England Test series that the side that puts the runs on the board will go on to win the series. While that has proven true, my contention that the Indian batsmen will outperform their counterparts went palpably wrong. The lack of runs from the established batsmen hurt Team India badly and by the time they travelled to Nagpur, the Indians were on the defensive.

The favourite ploy of playing to their strength on turners backfired rather horribly as the duo of Swann and Panesar exploited the helpful surfaces even as the English batsmen displayed outstanding technique and temperament to conquer the Indian spinners. Alastair Cook taught a lesson or two on how to bat on turners and but for a couple of poor decisions in Nagpur he might have scored more runs in the series. His dogged defence was a lesson to youngsters on how important it is to have a solid defence to survive on bowler-friendly tracks. His sewing up one end frustrated the Indian bowlers — be it spinners or pacers — apart from providing the freedom for the likes of Pietersen and Prior to launch an offensive when needed from the other end.

The distraction by way of being fixated on the nature of pitches did not help either Dhoni or his colleagues right through the series. Dhoni’s obsession with spinners made him forget that his pacers could fetch him wickets with reverse swing on dry surfaces. He must have seen red when Anderson did his batsmen in. But Zaheer Khan, the expert of reverse swing, was not quick enough to make the ball reverse. His ouster from the team meant that Ishant Sharma had to take over the mantle of the strike bowler and though he picked up wickets, the sluggish track in Nagpur did not give the batsmen any nightmares.

The saving grace for Dhoni was that he played a great knock on what was a difficult track for playing shots in Nagpur but the biggest question is that whether he can be retained as the captain any longer. It is not about results always but the current situation seems to be that the skipper is somehow struggling to retain his control over the team.

Alastair Cook will go back a proud man as he has achieved a Test series win after a long time and that too in style. His contribution as a batsman will be remembered for a long time and it was clear that he commanded respect from his team-mates by sheer weight of his performances. He needed to lead by example to ensure that the team supported him unreservedly after the myriad of controversies before the Englishmen departed to India.

Cook will leave his Indian counterpart in great discomfort as the Indian skipper will be required to provide a lot of answers for the continuing run of poor performances. He will also need to come out in the open if there are some elements that are looking to sabotage the team either due to personal differences or personal ambitions.

It is good to be seen as calm and composed but at the end of the day, it is a National side and no individual is bigger than the team or the game. More importantly, Dhoni needs to introspect and see if he is able to handle the enormous responsibility of leading and playing all the three formats as he did in the preceding years. It is not him alone but the selectors also need to revisit their policies going into the New Year, talking of which reminds me that it is the appropriate time for me to wish the readers a very happy and prosperous New Year.