It's been a rough 15 months for MS Dhoni. The knives are out, captaincy obits have been penned and the character assassinations are ubiquitous. Not the ideal way to begin the sixth year of your stint as captain. 'Mute spectator', 'poor leader', 'negative tactician', 'detached', 'confused', 'unaffected' - just some of the rhetoric in the newspapers and the sports bulletins on the telly lately. From the man who could do no wrong, he is now the wrong man.
As someone who has reported on the game for over a decade, I can tell you that the Indian media is easily swayed by the access players offer journalists. Our opinions are often determined by how well we are treated by India's cricketing superstars, and this is especially true of field reporters who believe (sometimes with good reason) that their careers will be made by the quantity of interviews they manage, even if there is little substance to the three-minute television interview or the 'exclusive' throwaway quote from a player as he walks from the press conference to the practice nets.
If an interview is not possible, and interviews with Dhoni are especially rare (even for a news channel he may have a contract with), just being privy to confidential information or having the players stop for a quick chat is enough to ensure the plaudits and positive estimations are aplenty. But players are not obligated to make themselves available to the media, a tiny detail we are fairly unforgiving of. So it's really interesting to see how Dhoni's relationship with the media in the country, and its opinion of him, has evolved since he was appointed one-day captain in 2007.