Bengaluru, Oct 21: Last night (October 20), India lost to New Zealand by 6 runs in the 2nd One Day International at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla ground. The hosts failed to chase down 243 and some in the media and fans were out to find a scapegoat for the defeat. The 5-match series is now tied 1-1.
Match scorecard; 2nd ODI report
While it was a collective failure of India's batting unit that resulted in the narrow loss, some picked captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to put the blame on. (Dhoni speaks after defeat)
India's premier news agency "Press Trust of India" (PTI) headlined its 2nd ODI match report as "Dhoni flops as India lose to NZ by six runs". Like "PTI" there were other Indian supporters who criticised Dhoni. (Skipper takes blame for defeat last year)
However, one needs to question the agenda behind "PTI" and others. How can one say Dhoni flopped when he scored 39 runs. Virat Kohli, the "king of run chases" had an off day, scoring only 9 runs.
It would have been apt to describe Kohli's innings on his home ground as a "flop". Every cricketer goes through failures. But why blame one individual?
There is no reason to target only Dhoni, the skipper. The 35-year-old was taking his time in the middle and was setting himself up to finish the game but a brilliant one-handed catch by Tim Southee off his own bowling ended his knock.
Dhoni had walked out to bat at number 5 with India at 72/3 in 18.4 overs. When he left the middle it was 172/6 in 39.3 overs, with the team needing 71 more to win. During his stay at the crease he had a 66-run partnership with Kedar Jadhav.
Again, he stitched a 33-run association with Axar Patel. But some were not happy with Dhoni's strike rate which was 60 (39 off 65 with 3 fours).
Later in the post-match press conference, Dhoni justified his approach to the chase as he said, due to wickets falling at the other end, he could not accelerate.
"I wanted to bat up and play a few more strokes. But it's not an easy thing when you are batting and if people keep losing their wickets at the other end. You wanted to play big shots but if at that point you lose a wicket, you have to again build partnerships. Ultimately you have to chase down what the opposition has scored," Dhoni said.
He added that if each of the batsmen had contributed 10 per cent more, India would have triumphed.
"It's not about one batsman, may be if everyone would have done 10 per cent more," he said.
Thanks to Dhoni's 39 runs, India were closer to the target and Hardik Pandya (36), in the company of Umesh Yadav (18 not out), almost pulled it off but it could not be.
It is always tough to live upto your reputation in each match. Dhoni, the "finisher" is experiencing that.
With Kohli's Test captaincy being successful and many backing him to take over the reins in limited overs, Dhoni is obviously under pressure.
But instead of unnecessarily blaming Dhoni, it is better to look at other members of the team as well.
In the past, Dhoni himself has taken the blame for defeats when he could not finish the contest.
But on Thursday night in Delhi, it was not Dhoni's fault alone. Let us not make a scapegoat out of him.