Will the tide turn for Dhoni?
As he prepares to defend the crown, he's a man weighed down by the expectations and the leader of a battered team. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports.
It's amazing how quickly equations can change in cricket. Mahendra Singh Dhoni will vouch for this after what he has experienced between his last game in the Indian Premier League and Wednesday's opener.
When he powered Chennai Super Kings to their second successive IPL crown in May 2011, he was the emperor of all he surveyed.
As he prepares to defend the crown, he's a man weighed down by the expectations and the leader of a battered team. Last May, Dhoni was well on his way to becoming the best captain world cricket has seen. In a fantastic year, he led India to World Cup glory and his side was on top of the Test rankings, and CSK had won the IPL twice. Essentially he had won everything there is to win in cricket.
Lucky to stay
At the end of the season, however, he can well consider himself lucky he's still holding the India captaincy after his reputation was torn to shreds by a marauding England in the summer and a ruthless Australia.
When India also failed to enter the final of the Asia Cup held in Bangladesh last month, it was rubbing salt into the wounds. In between, even CSK lost their invincibility at home in the 2011 Champions League T20.
Is he losing his winning streak as captain? "It always adds a bit of pressure but without that it is difficult to perform at the top level. In a sport we often forget one team always loses."
"We had a streak where we were on the winning side. In the last seven to eight months, mostly in Test matches, we have been on the losing side.
"That is a phase that comes in sport irrespective of what kind of sport we play. It is an opportunity for us to improve as cricketers and try and get to the next level. We have to start performing as a team, that will be crucial in the coming season," Dhoni said.
He's back playing his favourite tournament and will be hoping it brings a change in luck.
"We will get the break after the IPL. It is a mixed season for us. We will like to be more consistent wherever we go."