New Delhi: Same role but a different avatar awaits MS Dhoni as he attempts to add more sparkle to Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) bejewelled crown against a contrasting backdrop of the fiasco in England.
Dhoni tasted defeat for the first time in a Test series, and loss in the T20 and ODI series against England completed a miserable England tour for him. En route, India conceded their No. 1 rank in Tests and No. 4 in ODIs to the English team. And if the trend were to continue, the defending Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) champions have reason to fear when they start their campaign against fellow IPL team Mumbai Indians on Saturday.
Like with India, Dhoni's love affair with the Super Kings has been none less steamy. Other than the CL crown in 2010, the trophy cabinet in CSK headquarters also boasts of IPL 2010 and 2011 silverware. However, colours on the canvas of Dhoni's career have faded since the World Cup and IPL triumphs early this year.
Dhoni not only suffered a damaging loss as a captain but also had fingers pointed on him in England as a Test batsman. Some baffling decisions on the field had a telling effect on Dhoni's batting and wicketkeeping in the Test series. And though he came into his own with the bat during the ODI series, it wasn't enough to prevent a whitewash.
But observers of Dhoni's career will agree that T20 is Dhoni's zone, and it won't be a bolt from the blue if CSK script another success story under him. Hindsight of that, though, is that it will add conviction to the notion that Dhoni's formula works only in limited-overs cricket.
So it's kind of a double-edged sword for Dhoni. While a win may make his CV weightier, it can also label him as a limited-overs specialist, leading to his axing as India's Test captain.
But the BCCI's decision to retain Kris Srikkanth as the chairman of selectors indicates a similar kind of stance may be taken for Dhoni, considering India's climb to No. 1 in Tests and World Cup success under their second most successful captain.
Considering all that, whether CSK win or lose, the spotlight for the next 20 days will be on Dhoni, with critics eagle-eyeing every move he makes on the field. And for Team India, it's from where the rebuilding process starts.