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For once, Dhoni has valid excuses for the debacle

August 12, 2014 11:10 IST

For once, Dhoni has valid excuses for the debacle

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Bikash Mohapatra/Rediff/com

The series against England may be another lost cause, but not exactly a failure from Team India's point of view, says Bikash Mohapatra/Rediff.com

In December 2012 Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on the cusp of attaching a rather unwanted statistic in his otherwise impressive resume.

Team India had squandered an early lead against England -- following a comprehensive victory in the opening Test in Motera, the hosts had lost the next two in Mumbai and Kolkata -- and were staring at a series defeat at home for the first time in 12 years.

The fourth Test in Nagpur was a must win. But Dhoni and Co failed.

In the last month or so, the skipper has found himself in a sequel to the 2012 saga. England again is the opponent. Team India again had the lead in the series -- following a victory in the second Test at Lord's -- and, again, it went on to lose the next two Tests.

Again, the fifth and final Test at The Oval, starting August 15, is a must win.

Between the 2012 series and the ongoing series against England a lot has changed for the team and its leader.

Back in 2012, Dhoni had no excuses. After all, it was a home series against a team that had not won on Indian soil in almost 28 years.

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Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters

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For once, Dhoni has valid excuses for the debacle

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Bikash Mohapatra/Rediff.com

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, I believe, has three valid excuses on this tour.

One: This is an away series. Team India doesn't have a good reputation on the road. The last trip to England in 2011 ended in a 4-0 humiliation. Remember?

This time, the Indians were competitive in the opener at Trent Bridge and the victory at Lord's was only India's second at the home of cricket, only their sixth ever on English soil.

It was also India's first Test win overseas since July 2011 -- when they got the better of the West Indies at Sabina Park, Kingston.

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Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan watch England's James Anderson, right, leave the field after India won the second Test at Lord's.
Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters

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For once, Dhoni has valid excuses for the debacle

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Bikash Mohapatra/Rediff.com

Two: This Indian team is vastly inexperienced. When England vanquished the Indians in the 2012 series, the Indian side had Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan in its ranks. In 2011, the team also had Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman.

Besides Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has played 86 Tests, the only other member of the current team to have appeared in more than 50 Tests is Ishant Sharma (57).

True, Gambhir was part of the team at Old Trafford. But that Test was his first since the Nagpur Test of 2012 and the left-hander seemed all at sea against the English pace attack.

Going into five Tests -- the first time India has played such a long series in England since 1959 -- with a crew of inexperienced lads wasn't exactly the preferred option for the skipper.

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Image: Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane rush to congratulate Ishant Sharma celebrates after he dismissed Ben Stokes.
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Bikash Mohapatra/Rediff.com

Three: Both Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, the deemed replacements for Rahul Dravid (at No 3) and Sachin Tendulkar (at No 4), have failed on this tour.

On the South Africa and New Zealand tours, where India failed to get a result, Pujara and Kohli still made an impact.

With these key players failing to score runs in England, India's batting looks brittle with the English bowlers exploiting every frailty.

As for the bowlers, harsh it may sound, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pankaj Singh (no pace), Varun Aaron (no direction), Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja (no variation) may win you a match or two overseas, but they are definitely not going to win you a series. Not for now, at least!

The one bowler who could (Ishant Sharma) -- and he did so at Lord's -- wasn't fit enough for the next two Tests.

Considering these factors, the England series may be another lost cause, but not exactly a failure from the Indian team's point of view. I believe it is certainly an improvement from recent tours and a huge learning experience for the younger players.

If these youngsters work hard on their weak areas, they could serve India well in the tours to come.


Image: Both Cheteshwar Pujara, bowled by Ben Stokes at Lord's here, and Virat Kohli have failed in this series.
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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