Focus on Dhoni in the decider

Nagpur, Dec. 13 -- As India arrived for practice on Wednesday, skipper MS Dhoni made a dash for the 22-yard strip to check the condition of the track. After a chat with the curator, Praveen Hinganikar, Dhoni walked back to the pavilion. Perhaps, there were some last-minute instructions to be given to the curator, as a win here has acquired an altogether different meaning for the home team skipper.

Dhoni's captaincy is at its lowest ebb. After leading the side to the pinnacle of Test and one-day cricket, he has seen his team struggle for survival. In fact, there is also a big question mark over coach Duncan Fletcher's methods. Having taken over from Gary Kirsten, who guided the team to World Cup triumph, the Zimbabwean has failed to maintain the level of performance. The fourth Test against England, starting today, might throw up scary possibilities not just for the team but for individuals too. Dhoni agreed as much.

No solutions!

"This is the most important Test not just as captain, but as an individual too," said Dhoni, adding, "In India, everyone asks questions but no one comes up with solutions."

England, who are leading the series 2-1, will taste their first series win in India in 28 years if they manage to avoid a home team win.

The onus is on the hosts to claw back, as they risk losing a series at home for the first time since Australia visited the country in 2004.

In an uncanny similarity, it was the loss in the third Test against Australia at Nagpur in October 2004 that cost India the series. The hammering in that game started the national team's downslide. Greg Chappell replaced the then coach, John Wright, after his contract expired in May 2005.

It also marked the downfall of skipper Sourav Ganguly, who had cited injury as the reason for opting out of the third and fourth Tests, contradictory to reports that he was unhappy with the wicket at Nagpur. This Test is not being played at the old stadium, where the clash against Australia took place, but the portents are similar.

Dhoni's insistence on turners after the Ahmedabad victory backfired and England turned the tables on India. With only six wins, 10 losses and three draws, Fletcher is failing to justify his stay. Dhoni could be right when he says that the transition phase is never easy, but couldn't the period been planned better?

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »