Dhoni avoids media before World T20
MS Dhoni will leave on Friday morning for the World T20 without holding the customary pre-departure media conference. This is the second time in three weeks that the Indian team will fly out for an overseas series without addressing the national media.
Dhoni has returned to the national side after missing the Asia Cup due to a side strain that he suffered during India's tour of New Zealand earlier this year. Virat Kohli, who led India during the Asia Cup in Dhoni's absence, had also given the national media a skip before the team left for Dhaka on February 23.
Traditionally, the India captain and coach interact with the media prior to departure for every overseas assignment. However, the BCCI's decision to not organise an interaction for the second time in succession comes as a surprise, especially with the trying circumstances Indian cricket finds itself in.
The Indian team has had a forgettable last three months, extending their poor run away from home during the tours to South Africa and New Zealand, and then failing to qualify for the Asia Cup final. The team's lack of success away from home has raised questions over coach Duncan Fletcher¹s role, with former captain Sunil Gavaskar asking for Fletcher to be replaced with Rahul Dravid.
Even off the field, Indian cricket is struggling to recover from the IPL corruption scandal. A Supreme Court-appointed panel found that Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan, bet during matches in the 2013 IPL. Justice Mukul Mudgal, the chief of the panel, has submitted a sealed envelope to the court, which reportedly includes names of several current India players who need to be investigated for their role in corrupt activities.
Neither Fletcher nor Dhoni have spoken about the corruption scandal so far. In the wake of this, the BCCI's decision not to organise a press conference is even more baffling.
However, BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel played down the issue. "The only reason for not organising a media conference before the team¹s departure is because the captain will address the media soon after landing in Dhaka, as per the ICC protocol," he said.
Last year, Dhoni and Fletcher had addressed the media before heading to England for the Champions Trophy, though Dhoni refrained from answering questions on the IPL corruption scandal.
This will perhaps be the first time that the Indian team will leave for an ICC event without addressing the media at home. Barring the inaugural World T20 in 2007 when most of the team members, including captain Dhoni, left for South Africa after the completion of the tour to England, the BCCI has always facilitated the coach and captain's interaction with the media.
However, over the last couple of years, the BCCI has started shielding the players from the media. While Fletcher is believed to have a clause in his contract to keep his interaction with the media to a minimum, the BCCI's constitution bans selectors from speaking to the media.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo