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Indian Cricket needs a passionate Test captain

Filed under: Sports by Hari
Posted on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 10:05 IST (last updated: Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 10:16 IST)

Following the horrible performance in the home Test series against England, I think Indian cricket needs to rethink the Test captaincy. To be honest, Dhoni has looked out of sorts in the Test arena for a while, and I have no doubt that a change is needed at the top to infuse a bit of passion and energy at the Test level. Will the BCCI and the selectors be bold enough to take that step?

The recent performances of the Indian Test squad is enough of an indication that the problem is deeper than a mere loss of form of key players or retirement of experienced players. It is true that the batting has suffered a bit due to the retirement of stalwarts like Dravid and Laxman, but the issue goes beyond the standard phrase of "Indian cricket being in transition" as some commentators and experts have suggested. I cannot agree with that assessment. Dhoni has been captain long enough to understand his players. There is enough experience in the team to avoid losing badly in familiar conditions playing to their strengths. Virat Kohli has been around quite a while now and has performed well enough. The bowlers are, in paper, suited for Indian pitches. The two top-line spinners Ojha and Ashwin alone should have been enough to get the English batsmen tied up in knots. Yet, a resurgent English team was good enough to wipe India in the series 2-1.

I think a key factor is that Dhoni, as captain, has been far too defensive in his strategy. The batting failed on good pitches. I think this indicates that the batsmen were too worried about failure to focus on positive play. The bowlers, never having enough runs to defend in most of the games, wilted at the slightest sign of pressure from the opposition and gave away runs a little too freely. Dhoni simply could not infuse that passionate energy required for any team to climb out of a desperate situation and turn it around. Apart from the first match, India did not look like a team that could win a game in the series. It's easy to say this in hindsight, but having watched the matches, it was hard to pick out sessions of play where India were on top. Dhoni simply waited for his moment, but it never arrived. Test cricket, nay, any competitive sport is about grabbing the initiative, not waiting for it. In short, Dhoni kept reacting to situations, rather than leading the side proactively. England were too strong a Test side to allow India a chance once they took the initiative.

I am a fan of Dhoni in the shorter variety of the game, but in Test matches he is obviously at sea as captain. It hasn't helped that his batting hasn't flowered in the longer format. Besides, he has indicated from time to time that he is not all that interested in Test cricket. His excuses for failures are getting tired. He focusses too much on external factors like pitch conditions and too little on the team's performances. The signs are clear. Wake up, selectors! Indian cricket needs a captain who is passionate about Test cricket. Without a rejuvenated leadership, the future of Test cricket in India looks bleak.

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