M S Dhoni regains Midas touch, Michael Clarke gropes for grip
Walking into the press conference at the end of the second Test on Tuesday, M S Dhoni told an Australian reporter by way of greeting, "Now, it is my turn to smile." A few minutes earlier, sitting on the same chair, the gloom on Michael Clarke's face had increased with each question that came his way: on Australia's batting collapse in the morning — the last 7 wickets fell for 25 runs — and the innings and 135-run defeat. The skipper's look was that of the hopelessness that comes with a 0-2 score in a four-Test series.
Just a year back, it was Dhoni who was answering the same question, wearing that gloomy-face mask and leading a disillusioned, disjointed team.
Back then, Clarke was playing the smirking backyard bully, enjoying being hailed as Ricky Ponting's worthy successor. The wheel has turned and the roles have been reversed since India's 0-4 rout during the 2011-12 away tour. Two popular, well-attended Test home wins, in Chennai and Hyderabad, have changed the general perception about the team and its captain.
At the team hotel, a giant cake awaited the men in soiled whites who had many reasons to celebrate. Dhoni had become the most successful Indian Test captain ever, the win here taking him past Sourav Ganguly's victory count of 21. The timely captaincy high, coming on the heels of his match-winning first double hundred in the previous Test, has closed all leadership debates across all zones around the country.
Besides Dhoni, those who had icing smeared on their face were Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin. In the celebration around the young heroes — all in their mid-20s — the recently retired 35-plus were not missed; the remaining seniors, in the same age bracket, too escaped scrutiny.
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