Dhoni aura fast vanishing

Team India in trouble

 
Indian skipper MS Dhoni leaves the field after his dismissal in the match against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy match in Pretoria on Saturday. ReutersLast Saturday, India began their Champions Trophy campaign in South Africa as the world’s number one one-day team. The media hype about their having a psychological advantage over the archrivals notwithstanding, India lost that day-night’s opening tie against Pakistan convincingly.

If the Indian team under Mahendra Singh Dhoni have still a theoretical chance to move up to the semi-final stage after the two crucial ties on Wednesday – one involving Pakistan and Australia and the other between India and West Indies – they would be thanking the rain god.

Australians were well on course to pile up over 300 runs in Monday’s India-Australia tie when in the 43rd over rain stopped play at Centurion. Australia were 234 for 4 at that stage and they were left with enough fire power to batter the Indian bowlers in the slog overs. Had this match, which was subsequently abandoned, ran its full course, Dhoni team might very well have been playing their last group against an outright second-string West Indies team to salvage some lost pride.

Fortunately, for India they will be playing the last match of the Group-A on Wednesday — against West Indies. The result of the preceding Pakistan-Australia match would be known to skipper Dhoni.

However, even this would be of little consequence if Australia prevails over Pakistan. In which case, India would in any case crash out and Australia would join Pakistan as the second team as the two semi-finalists from Group-A.

So the first miracle that has to happen is that Pakistan should batter Australia by a big margin and then India will have to demolish West Indies — a not-so-easy proposition given the fact that Pakistan had to go through some anxious moments before it defeated a deeply depleted West Indies side in the first Group-A match last week. It is but ironical that Dhoni made a plea to Indian fans to back Pakistan to beat Australia in the Wednesday’s tie! The skipper has never been in this sort of a situation ever since he took over from Rahul Dravid two years ago. He could do no wrong, both as captain and batsman as he led his team to the first T20 Championship in South Africa in 2007.  It didn’t matter then that the skipper was leading a bunch of raw cricketers. But 2009 is different.

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