Bangalore, Jan 16: International Cricket Council's (ICC) one-Test ban on Mahendra Singh Dhoni might have come as a welcome relief for the beleagured Indian skipper.
Dhoni was suspended from Adelaide Test on Sunday for slow over-rate during the Perth match. This being a second offence in 12 months, Dhoni was penalised. The previous instance of the team failing to bowl the required overs had happened in Barbados against the West Indies in June-July last year.
India were two overs short in the Perth Test in Australia's first innings where Michael Clarke's team scored 369 in 76.2 overs. Australia won the Test by an innings and 37 runs.
Having already lost three Australian Tests in a row and overall seven on foreign soil, "Captain Cool" Dhoni was under huge pressure from fans, former cricketers and the media.
There were questions raised about his batting form abroad and also his tactics as a leader of the team. His batting average outside the subcontinent is 29.25 in 28 Tests while he averages a healthy 45.40 in the subcontinent in 39 matches. In the current Australian series, he has managed just 102 in six innings with a highest of 57 not out. Dhoni had made 12 and 2 in Perth.
Under the circumstances, the ban is a blessing in disguise for the World Cup winning captain.
The final Test of the four-match series starts in Adelaide on January 24 and India head into Twenty20s after that. There are two T20 Internationals between India and Australia and the first of those takes place on February 1 in Sydney.
So, Dhoni has two weeks of break where he can take his mind off cricket and ponder over what could have been done in the lost series.
He also can plan better for the shorter formats of the game with tri-series involving India, Australia and Sri Lanka. For sure, the 50-over World Champions are a far better side than in the five-day version. The tri-nation tournament gets under way in Melbourne on February 5 with India facing the home team.
In Dhoni's absence, Virender Sehwag will step up to lead the team and he will also be under pressure to pick the right combination to at least salvage some pride and avoid second successive series whitewash overseas.
Wriddhiman Saha will take over as team's wicketkeeper for Adelaide game.
With "The Big Three" of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman also under the scanner, it will be interesting to see who will be the one to face the axe in Adelaide Test.
For now, Dhoni doesn't have to crack his mind whether to drop any of the batting stalwarts. That decision lies with Sehwag, who too is searching for big runs. The opener has 118 runs from six visits to the crease at an average of 19.66.
At least for few days, Dhoni won't have to face the music. He can follow the team's fortunes in Adelaide from the sidelines. A welcome change indeed.