In the wake of India's exit from the 2019 ICC World Cup, many are theorizing as to why a team of such caliber and promise failed to lift the trophy. Many skeptics questioned the team management's decision to send inexperienced players like Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant ahead of MS Dhoni, although some doubts were also raised about the latter's underwhelming performance throughout the tournament.
While it was evident from the beginning that India had a lack of quality batsmen at the number four spot, the rare failure by the top order in the semifinal had the Men in Blue bowing out of the tournament for good.
At the center of all the drama stood Dhoni. Widely regarded as the greatest finisher in the history of ODI cricket, Dhoni could not recreate the same magic as he failed to get the team over the line.
Dhoni looked like a shell of himself in the tournament, often playing at a slower pace than usual. Once revered for his dedication and commitment towards the team, detractors on social media pressurized him to retire in the aftermath of India's World Cup campaign.
Even after leading India to several monumental series and ICC tournament wins in his illustrious career, Dhoni has been at the center of controversies many times. In this article, we look at five such instances when the legendary Dhoni was at a low point.
#5 The aftermath of the 2007 ICC World Cup
Soon after India's campaign at the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup ended disastrously in the group stage, infuriated fans vandalized the homes of the Indian cricketers and burned their effigies. Although Dhoni was a youngster in the team at that time, his house was nevertheless stone-pelted by political activists of JMM (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha).
It was one of the darkest days in the history of Indian cricket, with angry mobs all over the country taking to the streets protesting and creating a ruckus. A security team was deployed at Dhoni's house as a precautionary measure.
Five months later, a young Indian team led by Dhoni redeemed themselves when they won the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup held in South Africa.
#4 2012 CB series in Australia
Following a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of Australia in the 2011-12 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, India were scheduled to play the CB series, a tri-series between host nation Australia and Sri Lanka. Dhoni, the captain at that time, had a meeting with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. All of them aged between 33 and 39, were scrutinized for their slow fielding and lack of fitness.
Dhoni told them that he couldn't play all three of them at the same time owing to fielding issues. Eventually though, all three played the tournament with Gambhir being the second-highest run-getter for India after Virat Kohli.
Rumors started to fly about a possible rift between Dhoni and the senior players, which the captain was heavily criticized for by the media and the fans alike. India were eventually knocked out of the series as the final was played between Sri Lanka and Australia.
Many believed that Dhoni's selection method was one of the main reasons why India performed so poorly in the series. Following the tri-series, both Gambhir and Sehwag did not last long as they were permanently ousted from the side soon after, playing no more than 20 ODIs.