Are Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir fancying themselves to be India captain MS Dhoni's successor? Well, their performance in this season's Indian Premier League seems to suggest that. The India openers have always been great performers, but this time they have taken their game to another level. It's quite possible that they foresee an end to Dhoni's era and are using the league as a chance to assert their claims to the throne of the national team.
Look at Sehwag. The Delhi Daredevils captain has scored five consecutive half-centuries to become the first man to do so in the history of Twenty20 cricket. In 10 matches so far, he has piled up 445 runs at a superlative average of 49.44. Mind you, the tournament is only halfway through. Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gambhir has been no less impressive and has scored 365 runs in 10 matches at 45.62 with the help of four fifties. It's no surprise that their teams are holding the top two places in the league standings.
As these two are busy growing in stature, Chennai Super Kings captain Dhoni is having an IPL to forget. One would have expected that after a disappointing year as India captain, his fortunes would change in a league where his team has been the best over the last four seasons. But having witnessed his and Chennai's performance thus far, it's clear that things are becoming difficult for him by the day.
In 10 matches so far, Dhoni has scored just 166 runs at 27.66 and his best effort has been a mere 40. Reality hits you when comparing Dhoni's form with that of Sehwag and Gambhir. It has to be admitted that it is Stygian dark right now for a man who captained India to two World Cup wins and during whose tenure the national team for the first time sat atop the Test and ODI rankings at the same time.
Dhoni's poor and Chennai's poorer performance (four wins in 10 matches) has made matters worse for him. The two-time IPL winners seem to have lost the look of the champions. Look at Dhoni these days and you can make out that he is feeling the heat. He appears morose and out of hope. If things don't improve for him soon (in this tournament and a few international series later), calls for his head will surely reach the highest pitch, and it is apparent that Sehwag and Gambhir are smacking their lips with the anticipation of an opportunist. This IPL certainly has more to it than meets the eye.