India captain Dhoni under fire for tactics in Twenty20
Indian captain under fire for 'mind-boggling decision-making' in game against South Africa
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni faced calls to quit after his team's exit from the World Twenty20, with pundits lining up to condemn his tactics as well as the misfiring top order.
"Every captain's term has a shelf life and after five years at the helm, Dhoni's seems to have come to an end," said the Mail Today in a blistering review of his "mind-boggling decision-making" during Tuesday's game with South Africa.
"The entire match was littered with his mistakes," it added.
Although India scraped a one-run victory over the Proteas, they fell well short of the run rate required to reach the semi-finals.
Much of the criticism levelled at the captain revolved around the dropping of spinner Harbhajan Singh, who had been the team's most economical bowler.
The Times of India accused him of committing "a major captaincy gaffe" by dropping a player who finished with figures of four for 12 when India crushed England in the opening round.
"Dhoni will have much answering to do about why he didn't play veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on a wicket on which Pakistan played four spinners against Australia with much success," the paper said. "The Proteas are as bad players of spin as anybody in the world."
Dhoni has been one of the most successful captains in Indian history, leading the team to victory in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007 and at last year's 50-over World Cup. He also steered them to the top of the test rankings.
However, the team have slipped to number five in the test rankings and India have failed to reach the final stages of the past three Twenty20 tournaments.
Sambit Bal wrote on the Cricinfo website: "Ultimately, Dhoni can't escape scrutiny. He has been a remarkable leader on many accounts. But some of his selections and tactics on the field have been perplexing. Tough questions and tough decisions can't wait forever."
Dhoni, whose top score in the tournament was just 23, was one of a host of big-name Indian batsmen who failed to spark in Sri Lanka but he insisted: "I think it was quite a satisfactory performance.
"In this tournament, we lost just one game, though we lost it badly," he said, referring to the nine-wicket loss to Australia in a rain-affected Super Eights match on September 28.
"We all know what impact rain has on bowlers, especially the spinners. So let us get practical about what the reason was and ask whether it was the real fault of the players.
"It is not, it can happen in this format. And when you are at a stage where other games involving other teams can affect you, you don't want that kind of situation."