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03 December 2023

Fans pan India's 'faithful husbands' in Australia

By Reuters

India's effigy sellers are licking their lips at the prospect of booming business as the national cricket team continue to struggle on a shambolic tour of Australia and fans back home lose patience with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men.

After a thumping defeat in the first test in Melbourne, India are staring at another humiliating loss in Sydney where the hosts racked up a mammoth 659-4 before declaring their first innings.

India have never won a test series in Australia and a comprehensive defeat this time around is likely to bring fans onto the streets burning effigies and garlanding players' posters with slippers. A series whitewash would not go down well in a country of more than a billion cricket experts.

With India on the ropes in the second test, Dhoni and his team mates are coming in for stinging criticism back home.

"Indian batsmen are like faithful husbands, they perform only at home..." model Poonam Pandey quipped on her Twitter page (https://twitter.com/iPoonampandey).

Her comment made it to the front page section of Times of India newspaper, which usually reserves its use of quotes to philosophers and thinkers such as Plato.

Pandey's sarcasm pinpointed the grim reality about a team traditionally known as 'poor travellers', a notion Dhoni and his men did little to dispel by surrendering their top test team status in England last year after a 4-0 whitewash.

Pandey is a model from Mumbai who shot to fame last year after promising to strip should India win the 50-over World Cup, which they eventually did, before backtracking.

Her Twitter page is flooded with requests to do it this time around to help the Indians arrest their slide in Australia.

Equally sarcastic was former captain Sunil Gavaskar, who reckoned not much had changed since his playing days when many cricketers revived moribund careers by playing against India.

"It has always been the case over the years and it's the same now," Gavaskar told NDTV channel.

"If you want a resurrection of your career, play against India. If you want your highest score, play against India. If you want your best bowling figures, play against India."

Australia captain Michael Clarke could vouch for that, having hit a career-best 329 not out before declaring the first innings in Sydney.

Dhoni, who guided India to Twenty20 and 50-over World Cup triumphs with his unflappable and proactive leadership, has drawn ire for his defensive captaincy in Australia.

"Captain Cool (Dhoni's nickname) sounds okay when the team is doing well but if the team is doing badly, he needs to be a hard captain," Kapil Dev was quoted as saying in the Times of India newspaper.

The former skipper, who led India to 1983 World Cup victory, felt Dhoni alone could do little if his team mates let him down.