India’s shock loss in the fourth one-day match against Australia was one way that the players had of sending a message: members of the team don’t want Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain because he has lost that magic touch he once had.
Dhoni is more of a zombie and several members of the team are loath to play to their full potential and win games anymore because the captain will be able to bask in reflected glory.
The series against South Africa last year gave an indication of this: the one-day series and the Twenty20 series were both won by South Africa. Dhoni captained India in both these series. But when it came to the Test matches under Virat Kohli, India thrashed South Africa 3-0 and would have won the one drawn Test too had it not been for rain washing out most of the game.
Dhoni quit Test cricket when the Indian team was in Australia in 2014-15. He did not play in the first Test due to an injury and India lost this under Kohli but they went down fighting. Dhoni captained in the second Test which was lost rather badly and he quit Test cricket after that. Kohli took over and both the remaining Tests were drawn.
The fourth one-day match of the current seris, played on January 20, saw India lose from a winning position; chasing 349, they were 1-277 with both Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli having reached three figures. Dhawan then fell to a lazy stroke. Dhoni came in and was out for a duck; soon after, Kohli gave a catch to mid-off similar to those one gives during net practice.
Towards the latter part of the Indian innings, Ravindra Jadeja, an extremely competent batsman, was around but strangely refused to take a leadership role.
Jadeja came in at number six in the 40th over, with India needing 71 to win. He did not make any attempt to farm the strike, did not speak to the batsmen at the other end, and kept taking singles and exposing players much less able than him to face up.
Jadeja’s behaviour was passing strange, more so in the context of the Indian team manager Ravi Shastri having said on the eve of the fourth game: “Jaddu showed in the Test series (against South Africa) that he has matured a lot.
“Whenever he batted he played crucial innings. Why not in Australia? When he gets the opportunity… you have to get the opportunity first. We have batted so well at the top that the opportunity hasn’t been there. If and when there is a situation, like Australia were (in Melbourne, where the third one-day game was played), six down or seven down with another 60 to get. That will be his test.”
Yet Jadeja was placed in precisely this situation in Canberra and chose to protect his wicket and not bother about the team’s fate. What other reason could one apportion than his desire to see the team lose so that Dhoni would not be able to take the credit?
Dhoni must quit at the end of this tour, if not earlier, else India will be disgraced in the upcoming World Twenty20 tournament as well.