Dhoni began his stint as Indian captain in a blaze of glory, galvanising an inexperienced side to the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup crown in his first outing at the helm and subsequently adding one feather after another to his well-decorated cap.
The last four months, however, haven’t been too kind to the 28-year-old. First came the debacle at the World T20 in England in June.
Last month, his boys didn’t clear even the first hurdle at the Champions Trophy. For all the consistency in the last two years that saw them rise to the top of the one-day heap, India still have to show in terms of silverware in major competitions.
It’s against this backdrop that the seven-match one-day series against Australia beginning in Vadodara on Sunday assumes great import. India will re-assume the top position in the ICC one-day ratings if they manage to upend Ricky Ponting’s Champions Trophy-winning side, but even at home in front of a frenzied fan-following, that will be easier said than done.
In India’s favour, apart from their obvious familiarity with the conditions, is the prospect of fielding a full-strength squad for the first time in recent months. Australia, though, respect neither reputation nor form, which anyway is patchy in India’s case.
The force is with the Aussies, necessitating Dhoni to inspire his side to play above itself if he is to remain the man with the Midas touch.
Match starts at 9 am. Live on DD and Neo Cricket