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Ravi Shastri appointment increases pressure on Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Duncan Fletcher

Reuters
Aug 20, 2014 at 03:39pm IST

London: Team India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher remain in place, but only time will tell if the appointment of Ravi Shastri as director of cricket is a temporary measure or a sign of deeper changes ahead in the Indian cricket team management.

Former captain Shastri was installed "overall in-charge of cricket affairs" for India's upcoming five-match one-day series against England, following their embarrassing 3-1 Test series to defeat to the same opposition.

India claimed their first overseas win since 2011 when they won the second Test at Lord's, but surrendered the final three matches meekly, the final indignity being their downfall at The Oval when they lost by an innings and 244 runs within three days.

Ravi Shastri appointment increases pressure on Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Duncan Fletcher

Shastri was installed "overall in-charge of cricket affairs" for India's upcoming five-match one-day series against England, following India's embarrassing 3-1 Test defeat. (Getty Images)

Dhoni was one of the only players to show some fight as India's batting line-up failed to pass 200 in their last five innings of the series, but has come under severe criticism from media back home for overseeing some desperate performances.

"He has well and truly outlived his usefulness as a captain in the long form of the game," Nalin Mehta said in The Times of India on Tuesday.

"It is not so much the defeat, but the manner of the capitulation that rankles. India's cricketers have not just been routed in a series they began well, under Dhoni they looked bereft of ideas and direction."

The sentiment was shared by Sanjeev K Samyal in the Hindustan Times, who recalled that former greats Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly had lost the captaincy during their careers.

"And they never led teams that have played as poorly as those MS Dhoni has captained," he wrote.

"The humiliation at Old Trafford and The Oval is unacceptable. He has long since outlived his utility as test captain."

Fletcher, a former England coach, has arguably been placed under supervision following Shastri's appointment.

He was not spared criticism either, apportioned blame for the way the likes of Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan, tipped as potential stars of the series, struggled on foreign pitches.

"Fletcher is aware of the conditions and should have developed ways to see that the boys improve and come out of lean patch," former India captain GR Viswanath said in The New Indian Express.

"I think Fletcher has not been able to do the job."

Bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding mentor Trevor Penney have been given a "break" for the ODI series, with Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun made assistant coaches and R Sridhar named as fielding coach.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India said the changes were for the next five matches, but given India begin the defence of their World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand in February, more big decisions may be needed if India are to add a third 50-over trophy to their name.

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