Five years on, captain Dhoni braces for fresh tests

Colombo, Sept. 28 -- Few captains would survive after losing all four Tests of a series twice in a season. MS Dhoni has been lucky that the K Srikkanth-led selection committee didn't perceive things from a normal perspective. However, the selection committee changed on Thursday, and with it many equations can change. It remains to be seen if the new faces will also be so considerate with lack of results?

For all his past achievements, Dhoni will be on trial as captain this season. While the win against New Zealand in the Test series will feel good, it doesn't really count for much considering it came at home against an inexperienced side.

Big Challenge

His first big test starts with the business end of the World Twenty20, a tournament which marks five years of him in the leadership role. Starting with the Super Eights game against Australia, his every move here will be scrutinised, especially by the new selectors.

Apart from the flak he got for being unimaginative when the team was under the pump in England and Australia, he was also criticised for his off-the-field handling of his men. In a team full of superstars, handling inflated egos is an aspect where he's been said to be lacking.

Asked how it's been dealing with issues on and off the field in the last five years, Dhoni said, "The most important thing is how understanding your team-mates are. A lot of issues will be floating off the field but the important thing is to ignore them as much as possible. The reason is that expectations are too high and international cricket is a lot more stressful. There are things like this that you can ignore and channelise your energies in the right areas. You are much better off focusing on your cricket and your skills."

Personal Style

Dhoni also explained his style of dealing with off-field issues: "For me no news channels, no newspapers and no phones. That really helps if you haven't heard anything. Once you are done with the tournament you can think about all these things. It's important that I'm thinking in the right direction. It's up to each individual how he deals with it. The energy we are spending, it's important that we spend it on cricketing aspects - the nets and the fielding sessions and all those areas." Dhoni, however, boasts of an envious record in T20. He's won all the tournaments in the format - WT20, IPL and CLT20.

Former Sri Lanka skipper, Arjuna Ranatunga, backed Dhoni. "The pressure will be there on the captain when results are not there but people should understand the reason for not winning. They should see the conditions and the teams where he lost. The questions that those who criticise him should ask is whether he had the bowlers to bowl out the oppositions in Australia and England," said Ranatunga. "He's a positive captain, and has done really well, especially in limited-overs cricket."

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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