India finished their brief tour of Bangladesh with a victory but it was not enough to prevent a first ever one-day international series defeat to their fast-improving neighbors. Against a country to which they had only previously lost three of 29 ODI matches, India dropped the first two of the series before bouncing back with a 77-run victory on Wednesday. Still the inquest into the state of the ODI team three months on from relinquishing their World Cup title in the semifinals against Australia has continued.
Much of the discussion has centered on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s continued role as captain and his specific role in the batting order. The 33-year-old relinquished the test captaincy at the end of last year, being replaced by Virat Kohli, but he has stayed on with the ODI setup. That decision was widely scrutinized following the first two matches in Bangladesh, with Dhoni responding that if he were the problem he would step down. Yet, while there have also been reports of dressing-room unrest, Dhoni has received the backing from several members of his team.
“I think for all he’s done over the years, you can't disrespect him and what he has achieved,” Suresh Raina said at a press conference. “He has won so many trophies for BCCI. At the same time he's a good human being, good honest man. One series can't make him bad. He's a good leader. Everyone loves him around the dressing room. There's still a lot of cricket left for him. So just wait for some time.”
While the bowling attack failed to produce in the same way it did through the World Cup, Dhoni also reconfigured the batting lineup by moving himself up to No. 4 for the last two matches. He responded with two half-centuries and there are further positives with India remaining at No. 2 in the ODI rankings behind Australia and narrowly ahead of New Zealand and South Africa. And Raina has stressed it would be wrong to panic on the back of one bad series.
“The team's graph is going upwards definitely," he added, according to ESPN. "These were the last matches of the season. We don't know when we are next playing one-days. We have done quite well in the format and we are still No.2 in the world. It's not that you become good or bad in just one series.”
Those that lost the series in Bangladesh are unlikely to get a chance to redeem themselves any time soon, with a youthful selection expected to be taken to Zimbabwe next month. The whole tour had been in jeopardy until recent days due to a conflict over broadcasting contracts, but is now expected to go ahead. Yet after a grueling year, selectors have indicated that many of the senior players will be left out of the three ODIs and two Twetny20 matches in Zimbabwe. India’s test side is then set to head to Sri Lanka for three test matches, for which the dates have yet to be confirmed.
Zimbabwe Tour Schedule
Friday, July 10: 1st ODI
Sunday, July 12: 2nd ODI
Tuesday, July 14: 3rd ODI
Friday, July 17: 1st T20
Sunday, July 19: 2nd T20