Who After Dhoni?
Dhoni made his ODI debut against Bangladesh in Dec 2004 and his test debut against Sri Lanka the very next year.Though he didn't have a great series against Bangladesh, he was picked up for the bilateral series against Pakistan. It was in that series Dhoni proved his talent. In the second match of the series and in his fifth odi, Dhoni scored 148 runs and went on to become the highest run scorer by an Indian wicket keeper surpassing Dravid 's 145 against Sri Lanka in 1999.In the next series against Sri Lanka he proved even bigger. He scored 183 runs at number 3 for India and went on to become the highest run scorer by any wicket keeper in Odi history. He surpassed Adam Gilchrist"s 172 against Zimbabwe in 2004.Dhoni was known for his hard hitting and his ability to score runs quickly. Dhoni cemented his place in Indian squad as a permanent first choice wicket keeper which lead to the exclusion of Dinesh karthik and Parthiv Patel from Indian team.Dhoni became Number 1 in ICC odi rankings for batsman in the year 2006. However, in the late 2006 and early 2007, Dhoni's performance went down. He scored two ducks in 3 world cup matches in 2007. India had an early exit in the ICC world cup 2007.
Dhoni in tests:
Dhoni became India's first choice wicket keeper in tests after replacing Dinesh Karthik in 2005.Dhoni scored his maiden century in 2006 against Pakistan in Faisalabad. In the early days of test cricket, he was criticised for his keeping but later he improved his technique and became a great keeper. Though, he was a permanent member of Indian Test team, his test records were not so good as that of his Odi records.
Dhoni - the captain:
Dhoni became the captain of Indian Cricket team in September 2007 . As the seniors(Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid) didn't want to play in Twenty Twenty world Cup, Dhoni was made the captain. It was a surprise decision by the Indian selectors as everyone expected Yuvraj singh to be made the captain. Dhoni proved his ability as captain and went on to win the world cup for India. He was appreciated for his cool and calm nature as captain. Later, he became the captain of Indian odi team as well. Under Dhoni's captaincy India won the CB series in Australia. Dhoni became the Indian test Team captain for India on a regular basis since the fourth test match against Australia in 2008.It was under his captaincy India team went to the number 1 in test cricket.Under Dhoni's captaincy India won the bilateral series in New Zealand and Sri lanka for the first time. Under Dhoni's captaincy India won the ICC world Cup2011 after 28 years. He was awarded the Man Of the Match in the world Cup final against Sri Lanka. Dhoni as a captain also had a great success in IPL and champions league as well. Under his Captaincy, Chennai Super Kings went on to win the IPL 2010 and 2011 and Champions League 2010.
Who is next ?
Dhoni 's captaincy came into scanner after India's complete white wash against England in 2011. India went on to lose all the four tests, T20 and the odi series against England. India didn't have much success in Australia as well.India went on to lose all the four tests in Australia. It was then Dhoni's captaincy was questioned. Everyone was shocked when he announced that he may retire from tests in 2013 if he feels that he wants to be fit till 2015 world cup. It still became worse after the rift between Sehwag and him. Dhoni wanted young legs in his team in CB series which made him to rest two of the three senior players( Sachin Tendulkar, Virendar Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir). Clearly, Sehwag was not happy with this decision. So, there are a few questions which needs to be answered.
Should Dhoni quit as captain in tests?
Who can be made Dhoni's successor in test cricket?
If Dhoni retires from Tests in 2013, who is his replacement?
Should Dhoni quit as captain in tests?
Dhoni is the greatest captains that Indian cricket has ever produced. His achievement as captain is tremendous. But in tests it is still a question mark. In limited overs,as a captain he has done well in India as well as outside India. He has won series in Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand. But In tests, he has done very well in India, but outside India, his stats are not satisfactory. Dhoni has captained India In 36 tests, which comprises of 17 wins, 10 loss and 9 draws. The numbers may look good. But if it gets split, it may look a different story. In India, Dhoni has captained India in 18 tests, in which India has won 12 tests, drew 5 and lost just 1. But outside India, Dhoni has captained India in 18 tests,in which India has won only 5, lost as many as 9 and drew 4. This includes 8 successive loss in England and Australia. Dhoni is reluctant to play test cricket and he is not willing to play test cricket after 2013. So Dhoni might be axed as captain in tests by the Indian selectors and he may continue to captain for India in odis and T20s alone. This might improve his test records as a batsman. He has scored only 5 centuries in 67 matches (106 innings). His average is just 37 in tests when compared to his mammoth odi average of 51. So Dhoni as a player needs to contribute much for India in tests. And his Captaincy in tests is criticised for his defensive field set and defensive approach. So its better for Dhoni and Indian Test Cricket, if Dhoni quits as captain of test cricket.
Who can be made Dhoni's successor in Test Cricket?
If Dhoni quits as captain from test cricket, who can be made his successor. Lets take the present Indian test team.
Remove Ms Dhoni from the list as he is no more in the contention for Indian skipper in tests. The list of remaining players can be divided into 3. Super seniors , seniors and youngsters.
Super Seniors - Sachin Tendulkar,Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are hardly into the end of their career. So, they cant be made the captain.
Youngsters - Virat Kohli, R Aswin, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav have just started their test career. So this is not the appropriate time for them to be offered captaincy.
So the ideal choice for captaincy goes to the seniors.
Virendar Sehwag has captained India in the absence of Dravid and Dhoni.He has also captained Delhi Daredevils in IPL. He has a decent record as a captain. But it is doubtful whether he has the skill that Ms Dhoni possess as a captain. And one more factor is that Sehwag is almost 34 and his fitness is still a question mark. He has injury concerns and has been in and out of the indian squad due to injuries. Owing to his fitness, it is doubtful how long he plays for India in tests. If Dhoni quits captaincy, Sehwag is the front runner to become his successor. If Sehwag is made captain, Gambhir can be made his deputy as both of them share a very good rapport. Both of them hail from the same place and they have played a lot of cricket together.
GAUTAM GAMBHIR :
Gambhir is another candidate for the skipper. If Indian Cricket board looks for a captain on a long term basis, then Gambhir is the right choice. Gambhir is still 30 and he is still left out with a lot of cricket. He has captained India in the past and produced results as well. He has also captained Delhi daredevils and Kolkatta Knight riders in IPL. He posess a lot of leadership qualities. He is aggressive as captain. He follows Ganguly's style of Captaining. Under his captaincy, Kolkatta Knight Riders reached the semi-final of IPL for the first time. So, Gambhir is also a front runner for captaining Indian side in tests. If Gambhir is made captain, either Virat Kohli or Zaheer Khan can be made his deputy.
ZAHEER KHAN :
Interestingly i have picked Zaheer Khan for the post of captain for various reasons. Zaheer is one of the senior most players in the team.Under Dhoni's captaincy, it is Zaheer who leads the bowling unit. We don't see much often, Dhoni coming and speaking to the bowlers. It is Zaheer who stands in the mid-off or mid-on and gives idea to young bowlers and some times set the field for the bowler as well. For a long time, India didn't have a bowling captain. It was Kumble who captained India for just 12 - 14 months. We didn't have a solid bowling captain after Kapil Dev. Though Ravi Shastri and Kumble captained India in between, their tenure as captain was too short. Zaheer is the right choice for captaining India in tests, if he is appointed the captain the bowling department improves considerably. However, Zaheer like Sehwag has fitness issues. He is in and out of the Indian side due to injuries. If Zaheer is made the captain, Gambhir can be made the vice-captain.
If Dhoni retires from Tests in 2013, who is his replacement?
After Nayan Mongia, Indian team struggled to get a wicket keeper. MSK Prasad, Saba Karim, Sameer Dighe, Vijay Dahiya, Deep Das Gupta, Ajay Ratra, Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik all made into the Indian Team and went out. Rahul Dravid kept wickets for the Indian team for a few matches as well. It was Dhoni who was made the permanent wicket keeper for team india after 2004. In the above mentioned list of players, Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthk had a quite few success when compared to others and they are quite young as well. So if Dhoni retires from Test cricket in 2013, who has the chance of replacing him as Wicket keeper batsman in the Indian team. The three front runners are Parthiv Patel , Dinesh Karthik and Wridhiman Saha.
PARTHIV PATEL :
Parthiv Patel is just 26 years old. He has been in the Indian team for quite sometime. He has played 20 tests for India and has scored runs at an average of 30. He was sacked from the Indian team, as he was quite ordinary behind the wickets. He struggled keeping wickets especially with the likes of Kumble's bowling. He has a good run in the domestic cricket in recent years, so if his good form continues, he can make it to the playing 11.
DINESH KARTHIK :
Dinesh Karthik is also young, like Parthiv he is also 26 now. He has played cricket for India in the past. Karthik can be used as a floater. it is a big advantage for him. He has done it in the past. He has played at no 7, and has also opened the innings in the past. He can score runs quickly as well. He has played 23 test matches for India and scored runs at an average of 28. He is pretty ordinary behind the wickets but provides a strong support in the batting. He can be considered as the 7th batsman if he plays. In the recent times, Karthik has played very well in domestic cricket, and he has been in and out of the national side. His chances of making into the team can be increased if he continues to play well in Ranji trophy and IPL.
WRIDHIMAN SAHA :
Wridhiman Saha is at present the second wicket keeper for team India in tests. He is in the start of his career. He has proved his talent when he played for Bengal in the Ranji trophy which gained him the place in the national side. He has just played two tests and we have to wait and watch how he performs in the international level.
Out of these three, Dinesh Karthik is quite different as he is a batsman who can keep wickets , where as Patel and Saha are keepers who can bat.
So if Dhoni quits as captain in tests or if he retires from test cricket, a lot of work has to be done by the Indian Cricket Board to find his successor for the spot of captain and wicket keeper. So the Indian Board must start hunting for India's captain and wicket Keeper in tests. In odis there wont be much of a problem, as Dhoni has performed well as both captain and player. And more importantly, he has expressed his willingness to play in 2015 World cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand.
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