Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Test Team Captain

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has only one Test century to his credit so far. Having only been around three years in Test cricket and having played only 29 Tests, this young man from Ranchi has just got a shot in the arm to becoming skipper of Indian Test team as well. Already the captain of T20 and one-day teams, Dhoni has got the vote of confidence from coach Gary Kirsten.

Kirsten's statement highlighting Dhoni's credentials come in the wake of the Indian team's recent loss in Sri Lanka under the leadership of Anil Kumble. The squad included master's of the game: Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly. Not to forget the attacking Virendra Sehwag. The golden middle order proved a super flop despite the good starts the Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gave the team.

Dhoni was not with the Test team as he was allowed to take a break from the hectic schedule but returned to lead the ODI squad to a historic series win in the Island. He played extremely well in this series and played the triple role – captaincy, batsmanship and wicket-keeping – with grace and confidence.

Needles to say the suggestion that Dhoni is quite ready to lead the Test team is also natural at this time. He has already proved that he is very capable of handling the pressure of international cricket, becoming a more responsible batsman during captaincy. His batting average is a good yardstick. As captain, he averages around 55 with the bat and compares favorably with the 44.23 he had before getting this responsibility.

Not convinced yet? Look at another piece of statistic. In 84 ODIs before becoming captain, he made 14 half centuries but, despite appearing to bat at a lower gear, he has made 10 half centuries in 36 one-dayers as captain.

In fact, Dhoni has handled this crucial job very calmly and that's the beauty of this young man's game. Kirstem has got it absolutely right: India's ODI and T20 skipper is now ready to take over the mantle of Test captaincy from Anil Kumble. It's not easy job for Dhoni but the time is quite ripe for the transition to happen.

Dhoni is in superb form and has great support within the team. Most players in side have already played under his captaincy in ODIs and shouldn't find it tough to adapt. Yet, this move can make it more hectic for Dhoni. But, I believe Dhoni will respond well to the responsibilities that he is given.

He looks more mature and plays a better, if less exciting, brand of cricket. The journey that began by winning the ICC World T20 in South Africa has seen him find success in the CB Series in Australia and now in Sri Lanka. Yes, let us give him the chance in Tests, too. What do you think?
- Piyush
(Author is a journalist and associated with a popular sports portal)


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