Challenges Post CT : Can Kohli do a Dhoni amidst this raging storm?

2013 and 2017 - the two faces of a coin similar in many ways.

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Four years back on this day, India won the Champions Trophy and thus Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the first captain to win all the three ICC Trophies to douse the fire that had sparks enough to engulf his reign as the supremo.

Back then, neither our Sports-Nova was born nor was I into content writing. In fact, I was miles away from even harbouring the ideas that I would one day think of it as seriously as I have been for the past year and half. Yet, human beings always have their expressive mannerisms and the well-earned victory of the Indian team made me poignant enough to churn out a few lines on my social networking account. This goes as below.

On April 2, 2011, India lifted the World Cup. Since then, the Indian cricket has seen more darkness than light. It has been hit by a variety of controversies starting from the retirement of the legends of the game to the sacking of other seniors and finally the spot-fixing issue in the domestic T20 tournament being the latest nail in the coffin. Soon after the World Cup, India lost its numero uno status in Tests after being white-washed in England, following it up with another debacle of the same nature Down Under, before gifting England its first series win in India in almost three decades. In the One-dayers, too, India was thrashed in England, went down in the round-robins in the CB series and Asia Cup and lost the home series to arch-rival Pakistan. Barring two home series wins over a rather injury-stricken English side and a win in Sri Lanka or a Kohli storm in Dhaka or Hobart, only a very few things are worth-mentioning. In T20 World Cup, India was eliminated in the Super-Eight stage. But situation changed dramatically after the loss to Pakistan at home. 2013 started on a brilliant note, beating England and becoming No.1 in ODIs, before thrashing the Aussies in Test. A new bunch of warriors are created and they are the holding the flags high at the moment having an excellent English summer, playing like the true No.1, which they failed to produce at the same part of the globe two summers ago and probably where the momentum was lost. Perhaps, we are rising from the same ashes.

 Come home, champs with the trophy. The nation, grieving the departure of both their gods (read the fab four) and their collective legacy (read, clean cricket) is waiting desperately for a fresh breath of air.”

Four years down the line when I reminiscence to the day, it made me – as a fan of Indian cricket – feel as good as I felt whenever our boys brought laurels from overseas where we had for long been tagged as “lambs outside the lion’s lair”. That rain-hit day of the final sans a reserve day on the next at the Oval where we felt the possibility of another 2002 Colombo fiasco till the elements proved enough for a perfect T20 game with riders. A poor batting on a tricky wicket followed by good start post the break from our bowlers before the final thirty minutes dominance that swayed the match away from the hosts who are still to win a major event in the four-decade old format.

Coming to the latest Champions Trophy when India thumped Bangladesh to become the only team to play four finals in the history of the event, India had better bets of clinching their first world event under Virat Kohli than they had fancied under Dhoni. However, a bit of anti-climax when the Pakistan cricketers created one of the biggest upsets of recent times to almost annihilate their neighbours last Sunday – a victory margin of 180 runs was the biggest in the annals of this most thrilling Asian rivalry.

Last time, the victory came as a shot in the arm of Dhoni soon after he became the first skipper to lead side that whitewashed Australia in a series of at least four tests. It helped him take a breather from the critics who were calling for his head since the English debacle of 2011 that catapulted into more misery the following year. That time too, Dhoni took a few of his boys to the Caribbean and a memorable last over heroics from our ice cool finisher won India the final against Sri Lanka in that tri-series. In contrast to the ascendancy, things have of late started to drop down for Kohli who would be having a point or two to prove in this tour to West Indies without a regular coach after Anil Kumble stepped down amidst rumours a galore of fissures between the mentor and his disciples mostly over issues that had the least of cricketing concerns in it.

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