The news of an 'injured' Mahendra Singh Dhoni to miss the first Test at Brisbane from December 4 caught everyone by surprise on Monday. Even the Australian media was foxed by this 'doosra' from the Indian cricket Board (BCCI). At a time when Dhoni is being rested - he is skipping the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka - when and how Dhoni got injured are questions doing the rounds. Is Dhoni scared of batting at Brisbane? The BCCI's silence has added to the 'mystery.'
One of the richest sportspersons in the world - Dhoni is among the top 10 earners according to Forbes - the Indian captain is certainly not resting at home. He has been seen shooting for an energy drink and even turned up at sporting events. But no one is sure how Dhoni got injured. Unlike many cricket Boards which have a transparent and open relationship with the media, an obdurate BCCI has failed to provide adequate answers on Dhoni's injury. (Dhoni Should Stay Captain as Long As he Wants, Don't Rush Kohli)
The media is, therefore, drawing its own conclusion. After the thrashing in England this summer, Dhoni's reputation as a Test captain is already in tatters. To skip Brisbane is only adding fuel to fire. Is Dhoni scared of facing a battery of Australian pacers on a lively Gabba deck? Has Dhoni lost interest in Test cricket? (Kohli Will Enjoy Test Captaincy in Australia, Believes Dravid)
Brisbane is one of the liveliest pitches in the world. Australia have never lost a Test match since being beaten by the mighty West Indies 26 years ago. India's batting on lively tracks in England was dismal. James Anderson and Stuart Broad ran through the famous Indian line-up with their pace and swing. Former Aussie Test seamer Stuart Clark feels the Indians will fly the "white flag" on quick pitches.
"If India are going to come out and bowl spinners at us I think we'll come out and smash them everywhere," Clark said on a SKYSports radio show. "They're going to Brisbane first. Other than Shane Warne, no spinner has ever really done a lot there and been overly successful. (In Dhoni's Absence, Saha and Ojha Vie for Wicketkeeping Slots)
"In Adelaide they'll be OK, but Sydney the last couple of years has been quite pace-friendly - it's been carrying through and seamed around everywhere.
"They'll play Ashwin -- he's a good bowler in Indian conditions but I can't see him being overly successful here."
Clark does not think retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is the No.1 priority for India this summer.
"I'd suggest India are very, very concerned about the World Cup," Clark said.
"That's a big thing in their cricket calendar, one-day cricket and the World Cup. The Test series is big but at the end of the day if they do well in the World Cup no one will care about the Test series over there."