By the end of 2008, a touch over a year after Mahendra Singh Dhoni was first given a leadership role, India’s cricket selectors were convinced that they chose the right man to lead the country in all three formats of the game.
Now, as we approach the end of 2012, the selectors must strongly consider whether Dhoni can handle that type of a workload.
His contribution to Indian cricket purely as a captain has been immense. No matter how dark this phase appears to be, it must be remembered that Dhoni has led India to a World Twenty20 win, a World Cup and the World No 1 Test status.
However, nothing will be achieved if the present is ignored. Dhoni has given enough indication that he appears to be a little boy lost when rampaging batsmen are on the prowl. In this age of over-strategising, he seems to forget that cricket is a simple game in many respects and the day a leader forgets the fundamentals of captaincy, he loses out on a chance to produce good cricket.
India has moved on from the stage where they were very hard to beat at home, but very poor abroad. Dhoni has seen that transition a fair bit, but the fact is that his team has lost on all types of wickets in the last 18 months. The only teams India have managed to beat at a Test series level were New Zealand and West Indies.
It is beyond cricketing logic that despite the loss in the Mumbai Test, he chose to allow his team too many no-net-practice days, something so emphatically brought up by Sunil Gavaskar. Even the most talented outfits need to polish their skills and that cannot be done in the gymnasiums of five-star hotels. Cricketers don’t need to be obsessed with net sessions, but they must do more of them than what Dhoni is prescribing.
India would probably be better off with a new Test captain. The selectors don’t have too many choices, but it’s time for a gamble. Dhoni’s record of nine Test losses since the middle of last year is too much of an embarrassment.