He's had a six-year honeymoon since his international debut in 2004, been hailed as 'Captain Cool' and led India to the inaugural T20 World Cup title and the No. 1 ranking in Tests. But Mahendra Singh Dhoni may be about to suffer the first major setback of his career.
With India failing to win a single Super 8 match in two straight T20 World Cups, there is talk of replacing Dhoni as captain in both one-dayers and T20. However, sources have told TIMES NOW that after India's shocking exit, the BCCI is now going to put captain MS Dhoni under probation.
Sources told media that Asia Cup in June will be Dhoni's last chance to redeem himself as skipper. If Dhoni fails to lead India to win in Asia Cup then he may face the axe.
The BCCI is now going to closely monitor Dhoni's performances as skipper in the tournaments to come and decide on his fate as the captain of the T20 & ODI side.
India have had some high profile crashes in World Cup's under Dhoni specially the T20 World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy last year and now BCCI's patience seems to be running out on Dhoni specially with the ODI World Cup at home less than an year away.
Sources have also told TIMES NOW that the man most likely to replace Dhoni will be Virender Sehwag. Viru has been the leader of India's batting lineup for the last decade and his carefree attitude and fresh ideas may work in his favour, but Viru's poor fitness record is well known and that may work against him.
Gautam Gambhir is the other contender for Dhoni's throne. Gauti is a team-man and popular in the dressing room, but his inexperience of leading sides at the highest level may work against him.
It is possible that India will have a new captain as early as next month when the selectors name the squad for Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. While Sehwag seems the front-runner for the top job, Dhoni will continue to lead the team in Tests, where India is No. 1 in ICC rankings.
The series of "blunders" by Dhoni in team selection, batting order and tactics are likely to be held against him.
In fact, some insiders say that the change of guard is aimed at achieving two objectives — one, signalling the BCCI's deep displeasure with Dhoni for speaking "out of turn", and two, deflecting attention from the BCCI which can't be absolved of blame for its failure to prepare the team.
What's making it easier for the administrators to seriously think of axing Dhoni is his below-average form. His tendency to frequently promote himself in the batting order has apparently led to murmurs amongst batsmen who find themselves being constantly shunted up and down the order.
Those claiming to know the selectors' also point out 'shortcomings' like Dhoni's inability these days to come up with his trademark big hits. They cite the crunch match against Sri Lanka in which Dhoni walked in with Gambhir and Raina having provided a perfect platform, but failed to provide impetus. Worse, someone like Yusuf Pathan, who could have taken on the Lankan spinners, got just a few balls to face.
It's a moot point whether any other captain could have fared any better. And Virender Sehwag's own captaincy record isn't exactly awe-inspiring. In fact, Sehwag has even given up the captaincy of Delhi Daredevils, saying he prefers to enjoy the game and concentrate on his batting. Clearly, there are many more dramatic episodes ahead in the soap opera that is Indian cricket.
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