ICC World T20 2014 final could either make or break MS Dhoni’s reputation

ICC World T20, April 5, Cricket Country: A lot has been said and written about the Indian skipper MS Dhoni. However, over and over again, despite being under constant media glare and fan criticism, Captain Cool has yet again led his team to an ICC tournament, the T20 World Cup. Sudatta Mukherjee writes why winning the World T20 2014 wouldn’t matter as much as losing it.

ICC World T20 2014 final could either make or break MS Dhoni’s reputation

New Zealand v India

MS Dhoni was made captain of India in the shorter formats following Rahul Dravid’s resignation in 2007; within another year he was leading India in Tests as well. Under him, India went on to win the inaugural World T20 held in South Africa in 2007. Since then, Dhoni has gone on to win 140 matches across all formats from his 259 and has been the most successful Indian captain.

He has won the ICC World T20 2007, the ICC World Cup 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy 2013 and also the Asia Cup 2010. Despite all that Dhoni’s biggest achievement probably was guiding India to the No 1 position in Tests.

However, things changed with time. With fame and glamour came criticism and constant scrutiny; Dhoni had probably set the bar too high. To make things worse, a lot of controversies followed as well. The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 spot-fixing controversy, India slumping from great heights after the 2011 World Cup, whitewashes in England and in Australia, and the recent losing streaks against South Africa and New Zealand and lastly Asia Cup 2014 debacle. Since 2011, Dhoni’s stars haven’t shone so much as it had done till the 2011 World Cup.

With a lot happening back in India, especially with Dhoni’s IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings’ team principal under betting scandal scrutiny, Sunday’s final will determine how Dhoni is received back home.

If India win their second World T20 title, it will be the fourth title for Dhoni [if one includes the Champions Trophy], and he will be the first one to achieve the feat twice. Except that nothing will change, given how much Dhoni has already achieved. However, if Dhoni fails, the critics will not hesitate one bit from pointing out the way he has led the team to fall from the great heights of 2011.

Losing the final would be mean another loss outside India for Dhoni — something he clearly wouldn’t want. Having lost the ICC World T20 2012 despite being the favourites at that time, Dhoni would like to improve his records in T20 cricket. A lot of former cricketers have already called for Dhoni’s resignation as a captain, and have announced that they feel Virat Kohli, the Indian vice-captain, should take over the role.

It was not long ago that former India skipper Sourav Ganguly had said, “If the World Cup was not less than a year away, I would have agreed that Dhoni needed to be removed as captain.”

What will happen if India loses the final? First, the call for him to step down as the captain will gain more support. Secondly, the support that he has gained for helping India reach the ICC World T20 2014 final will get weakened. Even CSK fans will find it hard to believe whether their captain will be able to win the IPL title once again. The last time CSK had won the IPL was two seasons back. They lost the last two finals.

Dhoni has also faced a lot criticism for supporting few particular players and not giving the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara a chance in the shorter formats. Also, he has backed players like Mohit Sharma of late ahead of Mohammed Shami. Such decisions, combined with an Indian failure, are bound to come back to hurt Dhoni, leaving the man standing in front of a line of media and former cricketers who wouldn’t let go of such an opportunity.