Monday, April 15, 2024
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To Dhoni or not to Dhoni

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Ex-cricketers ponder the question

WELLINGTON/MUMBAI: Under fire for continued poor performances of the Indian team abroad, captain MS Dhoni has received broad support from at least three high profile ex-cricketers on Tuesday, although they also had some advice for the beleaguered skipper.
Former stumper Syed Kirmani backed Dhoni’s captaincy, saying too much should not be read into India’s fourth consecutive series loss overseas, as he felt every team goes through a bad phase.
“It does not matter whether it is four losses or five. Every team goes through it. Every individual goes through a bad form. We are going through a bad form overall. You cannot be expecting Dhoni to win all the series at all the times or all the formats at all the times. It is a combat between the ball and the bat,” he told reporters in Mumbai.
India have lost their last four series abroad starting with the 4-0 rout suffered in England and ending with the 0-1 loss to New Zealand on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s former skipper Martin Crowe feels India’s chances of defending the title at next year’s 50-over World Cup could improve if Dhoni hands over the Test captaincy to Virat Kohli.
“I would say that if India want to defend the next World Cup, I think MS Dhoni needs a rest somewhere, at some point, not necessarily from playing, but maybe it could be by not captaining the Test side for a period leading into the World Cup, to refresh him so that he can hit the ground running for that World Cup. So there’s a couple of things to ponder there,” Crowe said.
But speaking to a cricket website, Crowe called Dhoni an “incredible” player.
“I think he’s an absolutely gifted player, a marvel at times, given all the formats that he plays, but I do wonder sometimes about how he regards Test cricket. Just a point that I’d like to throw in there. Overall, MS Dhoni is an incredible cricketer, and I think that the main fact is that he probably can’t keep doing every format from here on in.”
Indian batting great Rahul Dravid believed it might be better for Kohli to take over after the tours of England and Australia.
“I think that World Cup is going to be the watershed moment, and two big series in England and Australia, and after that I believe it will be time for (Dhoni), both personally and for Indian cricket, to assess whether it’s time for a new man to take over,” Dravid said.
“Luckily, in some ways, we’ve got Virat Kohli, who’s playing beautifully, so it’s not that you don’t have somebody waiting in the wings.”
“You’ve got a young player who has, by all accounts, led before. He’s led India Under-19 before, he’s led Delhi before, he’s led North Zone, he’s got leadership experience.”
Dravid does feel, however, that Dhoni needs to take a “few risks” to win abroad in Test matches, which he should remain captain of for at least a year, the Bangalore-based former batsman said.
“I think he’s got to realise this very quickly, that if he wants to win Test matches abroad, he’s got to risk it all. He’s got to take that chance that he’s going to have to lose some Test matches. The only way you can win abroad is to take a few risks, take a few gambles,” Dravid said.
Dravid said that Dhoni’s captaincy has been defensive in critical situations and felt he doesn’t trust his bowling attack enough.
“I think he (Dhoni) doesn’t trust his bowling attack as much as I think he should. I saw that even in the Test match in Durban, where he didn’t take the new ball till 146 overs. In fact he was forced to take the new ball.
Away from home, Dhoni has captained India in 23 Tests, of which they have won five, lost 11 and drawn seven, and asked if the selectors should continue with him, Dravid replied in the positive.
Kirmani also suggested it is unfair to blame a captain when the team is losing.
“The entire credit goes to the captain and the discredit when they lose. Now you are criticising Dhoni’s captaincy. When he was winning, he had the same strategy, the same game plan.” (PTI)

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