Is the rift between Dhoni and Sehwag behind India’s poor show?

You would expect a team which has won a World Cup recently to continue its success not only in that format but also in other forms of the game. But India’s performance, instead of reaching the pinnacle after winning the 50-over World Cup in April last year, nosedived sharply.

They lost their No. 1 status in Test cricket, which was followed by drubbings in Tests in England and Australia. Their form in ODIs too dipped, while they failed to make it to the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 for the third time in a row. What could be the possible reasons for such a shoddy display by a team which was expected to do well?             

Of the many reasons that has been attributed to India’s downfall in the past 18 months, the rift between captain MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag may perhaps top that list.

The bitterness first became apparent when Dhoni was elevated to the India captaincy, although Sehwag was said to be the front-runner then. Things deteriorated further when Dhoni rested Sehwag for the World Twenty20 final against Pakistan in 2007.

The tension between the two players is said to have broadened when Sehwag was rested during the CB Series – which India won – in Australia in 2008 on fitness grounds. Sehwag later clarified that he was fit.

Things went from bad to worse when Dhoni displayed a public show of team unity in the 2009 World Twenty20 after reports that Sehwag, who came into the tournament with a shoulder injury, was rested deliberately by the captain.

In the recently concluded World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, the team management’s decision to rest Sehwag and Zaheer Khan did not go down to well with the two senior pros. While both were requested to rest and make way for youngsters for the game against England, India’s heavy loss in the Super Eights against Australia forced the team management to bring back the duo, though it could not prevent India’s early exit from the premier tournament.

After India’s tumultuous run across all formats, it has also been reported that the BCCI is mulling an idea of having three captains for Tests, ODIs and T20s.

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