A Test series in which many would say India punched above their weight. But, for MS Dhoni and his team, a win in the series would have been a sweet silencer to all the critics, who before the series started, doubted this team’s ability to withstand the South African barrage. If not for a few mistakes, India might have had a better crack at the total. And Dhoni himself must take responsibility for a few of them. Here is a look at some of the mistakes made by the skipper that played a part in turning the tide the Proteas’ way.
1. Defensive Fields
In Jo’burg, when India had ample time to pick up the wickets, Dhoni diminished India’s chances by setting surprisingly defensive fields, and not giving his bowlers enough of a chance. For far too long, Dhoni didn’t have enough men in catching positions, and sure enough, there were a few chances on offer, that could have been taken had Dhoni showed a bit more positive intent with his field placements.
2. Too much faith in Zaheer Khan
Zaheer Khan was the most experienced bowler available at MS Dhoni’s disposal in the series, but at times, one got the feeling that Doni was relying too much on ZAheer. Zaheer was playing International Cricket after a long gap, and giving him as many long spells as Dhoni did was not the best of ideas.
3. Under-using Shami
Through the course of the Test series, Mohammad Shami was India’s most threatening bowler, and it was shocking to see that Dhoni never called him at the sight of a partnership building. It seemed as though Dhoni only went to Shami as a last resort, and although he tried his hardest, Shami’s efforts were in vain, as the batsmen were already set, and were ready to milk his bowling around.
4. Woeful batting
Although much has been talked about the others, Dhoni needs to have a long, hard look at himself as a Test batsman. Dhoni’s lack of a solid technique has been cruelly exposed in foreign conditions. Dhoni averages 26 in Tests outside the sub-continent, hardly flattering. Dhoni has been guilty of pushing at balls outside the off-stump and has edged into the ‘keeper and the slips way too often. Dhoni seriously needs to find a way out of this mess he has created for himself as a Test batsman.
5. Lack of vocal support
As in almost all of his time as India’s captain, Dhoni never went up and spoke to his bowler to give him comfort and encouragement. While having a calm demeanour is one thing, Dhoni seems to be indifferent while on the field. Admittedly, Dhoni is at his most comfortable when he is playing around with the opposition using his spinners, but spinners won’t win you too many games overseas, and Dhoni has found that out the hard way. Dhoni has lost 9 and drawn one of hist ten overseas Tests, and he’d better find that winning formula soon.
While he can remain as calm and as unflappable as he always is, Dhoni must realize that sometimes, bowlers look for some inspiration, and it is the captain’s responsibility to do that to the best of his ability.