Who can Dhoni depend on in this Indian team?

And by trust we aren’t referring to a night of long knives – but something as simple as Mahendra Singh Dhoni not being able to trust his teammates’ ability to produce match-winning performances with any consistency.

After India lost the first ODI against England, Dhoni made a pertinent point in the post-match conference: “I don’t want to sound arrogant but it seemed easy when I and Raina were in, with five fielders in the circle. But once we fell, it was difficult.”

The past few ODIs have all followed the same format. Dhoni bats, the others don’t. The bowlers bowl well in one game and then fail in the other. Given how things are, it is almost impossible to come up with a plan and expect the team to execute it well.

Can Dhoni only depend on the pitch? PTI

Can Dhoni only depend on the pitch? PTI

Every captain in the history of the game has had his go-to men. Sourav Ganguly had Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble to fall back on. Rahul Dravid also had Kumble and Zaheer Khan in addition to the Sehwag. Anil Kumble had the same batch of performers at his disposal as did Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the early part of his tenure as skipper.

But now when Dhoni looks around – he probably has no one to fall back on. He has no go-to men. He has no player who can be counted upon to come good in a pinch.

The likes of Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir should have stepped up. But they have instead adopted inconsistency as their motto.

Raina has actually managed to play 100 ODIs under Dhoni, scoring 2941 runs at an average of 40.84, but how many times has he taken India to victory in the recent past? Yuvraj Singh has played in 89 ODIs under Dhoni with 2894 runs at 39.10 but does he know how to finish matches? Gautam Gambhir is another player who has played a lot of cricket under Dhoni -- 101 matches, 3624 runs, 39.82. But he isn't in his best form either.

The same is true of the bowlers too. The most experienced bowler – Ishant Sharma – had bowling figures of 10-2-86-0 at Rajkot. The most economical bowlers – R Jadeja (10-0-46-0) and Suresh Raina (5-0-18-1) – were part-timers. R Ashwin is still not very experienced, but he is struggling to get wickets. Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan have faded away.

It's a strange situation where Dhoni can count on no one but himself. And while you can win a few matches on your own, on most days, it will only lead to defeat.

Watch the entire discussion between Sports Editor Ashish Magotra and veteran sports writer Ayaz Memon above. They also discuss the AITA controversy.