There was a time just a few months ago when Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn’t do a thing wrong.
Not only was he captain of the India team that had just won the World Cup on home soil, India were also unbeaten in his 11 Test series at the helm and sat proudly at the top of the ICC Test rankings.
If that wasn’t enough he also led Chennai Super Kings to their second successive IPL crown, having also claimed the Champions League for his franchise in 2010.
In short, Dhoni was the main man and a leader that was held in the upper echelon of leaders that inludes the likes of Genghis Khan and Napoleon.
But just as invading Russia proved a step too far for France’s diminutive Emperor, so the tour of England proved for Dhoni.
India weren’t just beaten. They were royally hammered.
Losing the Test series 4-0 was humiliating enough. But the magnitude of the defeats was staggering for a team that had been number one in the world: England won by 196 runs at Lords, 319 runs at Trent Bridge, an innings and 242 at Edgbaston and then finally by an innings and 8 runs at The Oval.
Dhoni’s own form suffered too – a couple of fifties at Edgbaston apart – and his performances behind the stumps were dreadful where it seemed his gloves were made of iron.
Things didn’t get much better in the limited overs matches with England winning the solitary T20 and the one day series 3-0 even if Dhoni’s upsurge in form earned him the man of the series award.
Then if all that wasn’t enough, no sooner had Dhoni returned home to India than Chennai lost their grip on the Champions League and finished embarrassingly bottom of their group.
So as much as Dhoni deserves a rest after an arduous schedule over the last six months, part of him may be glad for the chance to seek immediate retribution against England in the one day series that starts today.
As we wrote yesterday, the series may be pointless on most counts, but if it enables India to repair a few bruised egos and Dhoni to rebuild his reputation as a leader, he and his men will probably take that.
In truth, Dhoni is not a leader of the calibre of a Napoleon, but neither is he an Ian Duncan-Smith either and England will find India a much tougher proposition on their own pitches than they did in England over the summer.
We’re just not sure that we will be paying much attention to it.
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