There could not have been worse scene for the Indian cricket fans than witnessing the bashing of Team India by South Africa in their own backyard on Sunday. It is rare for Indian team to be on the losing side on their home soil in limited-over cricket and Proteas finally climbed the fort to claim their first ever bilateral ODI series victory in India in their fifth attempt since 1991.

South Africa did it in an emphatic manner; first they amassed a massive 438/4 and then bowled out the hosts for 224 in 36 overs and sealed the five-match series 3-2. India's 214-run defeat in the final ODI at Wankhede in Mumbai was also their second biggest loss in terms of runs in one-day internationals. This is India's second ODI series defeat at home in almost three years after Pakistan prevailed over the hosts in 2012/13.

Winning and losing is part of the game when the two teams play but the way India succumbed to South Africa left team's and ODI skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's fate in dark. And what worries more is the fact that India failed to win a single series under Dhoni's leadership this year. India will finish the season with only one series victory and it came surprisingly from the second string team who whitewashed Zimbabwe 3-0 away from home under the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane.

The midas touch for which Dhoni is known for, which guided India to all three ICC titles - the World Twenty20 in 2007, the World Cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013, seemed to have gone and has stopped working in favour of the team. Dhoni, who quit from Test cricket last year, has been unable to show the instincts that had helped him outsmart the opposition with clever bowling changes and field placements. Dhoni's own death-overs batting has also lost its spark.

India started their ODI assignments this year with a triangular series in Australia. And their struggle had also began as they found themselves in a precarious position suffering defeat after defeat and ended their winless campaign in the tournament that involved hosts Australia and England.

Next big challenge for India was to defend their World Cup title and given the form they were not looking favourite to lift the cup. India came back all guns blazing and launched their title defence in style defeating Pakistan convincingly and kept their winning record intact against the arch-rivals in quadrennial events. India continued their dream run in the tournament and recorded their second victory by thrashing South Africa in their second Pool match. India went on to win against UAE, West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe and finished atop Pool B.

India advanced to the semifinal after defeating Bangladesh in quarterfinal marred by some bad umpiring decisions. Team India was on a roll and won 11 matches on the trot in World Cups before their run was halted by Australia in the last-four stage. Indian players' problem to deliver at big stage came to the fore again as the bowlers leaked more than 300 runs and then collective failure of batsmen saw India crashing out of the tournament.

India toured Bangladesh for the one-off Test and the three-match ODI series in June in a hope to turn the fortunes after the World Cup. But the Bangla Tigers had some other plans as they stunned India to register first ever bilateral series victory and also avenge their World Cup quarterfinal loss. The defeat left Indian cricket and Dhoni in jeopardy and there were also calls to remove him from the captaincy.

Dhoni has hit back at his critics after the Bangladesh loss, saying he was willing to step down as captain and contribute as a player if it guaranteed success for Indian cricket.

"I am really enjoying my cricket... if it is justifiable if you remove me (as captain) and the Indian cricket will start doing well, and if I am the reason for all the bad that's happening to Indian cricket, definitely I would love to step away and play as a player," Dhoni said. "I am always the one who is responsible for anything bad that happens in Indian cricket. Everything that happens is because of me," he added.

With another series loss that too at home, the pressure will start mounting on Dhoni again as selectors may think to hand over the command to Test captain Virat Kohli, who seems ready to take over in the shorter formats too.

Courtesy Times of India