Dhoni is back as reassuring constant

In the high-decibel celebration of a couple of three-digit scores by twenty-somethings and the deafening moan over the dismissal of a star in late 30s, a bit of good news got lost. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's contribution of 73, 62 and 48 not out in India's season-opening Test series win over New Zealand didn't have the glow of the cheerful tons that Virat Kohli or Cheteshwar Pujara hit but his innings did have the worth, weight, and also significance, to eat into the time spent subsequently revisiting Sachin Tendulkar's eye-sight, muscle movement and future.

Stability and continuity are like air and water for teams in transition. With VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid signing off and a new pecking order vaguely taking shape, India is one such unit. The dressing room is younger but it still has several old hands with a past. When impressionable young men find themselves in a dressing room that has a cloud of ambiguity over it and a sea of ambitions underneath, the atmosphere isn't conducive for a smooth and seamless passing of the baton.

After last season's humiliation in England and Australia, added to Dhoni's puzzling hint about relinquishing Test cricket to concentrate on the 2014 World Cup, speculations about change in leadership had mushroomed. With a couple of very successful IPL captains being regulars in the team, there was a ready cast to match this shady script. Adding to the intrigue is the new selection committee that is set to take charge in the coming days. Change was all around and Dhoni faced the challenge to be the constant.

Known to step it up when it matters, he did it once again. Legends of the game say that it is the runs and wickets, more than the match result, that make a captain stronger and his authority unquestioned. Dhoni's cocky walk to the pavilion after hitting the winning six at Bangalore left little doubt about who was in-charge. There he was, strapped tight to the seat, with his steady hands on the wheel. Looking ahead, Dhoni will need the well-travelled Tendulkar by his side, for this crucial part of the tough journey. Besides passing vital tips to the GenNext players, he can be the gel that keeps GenPrevious together and work towards a common goal.

sandeep.dwivedi@expressindia.com

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