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Untimely calls for Dhoni's head

Jaspreet Sahni | | Updated: October 7, 2015, 3:02 PM IST

You change a captain on performance grounds in two cases: (a) if he continues to fail as a skipper after his appointment or (b) when a proven leader hits a downward slide, fails to lift the team out of the hole and there's someone capable waiting in the wings to take over.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in the fast lane to make the grade for category (b), barring the last bit of the qualification criteria after India's batting order turned into a 'disorder' of unmatched proportions in England.

India's last five Test innings in the Test series - which culminated with a 1-3 scoreline at The Oval - read 178, 152, 161, 148 and 94. That effectively put to bed the chances of Virat Kohli, who, until his sorry average of 13.40 in 10 Test innings in England, was considered the best bet to take over from Dhoni.

Not now, though. The commotion for Dhoni's head is, therefore, at the moment pointless. India don't have his successor, just yet. Dhoni at least is performing with the bat and gloves, if not as a captain.

But what fuels fans' frustration is the Indian skipper's attitude that is past the expiry date of being 'cool'. When your team has lost, and so embarrassingly at that, pointed questions will be asked. And a skipper owes it to the press and the team's fans to answer cogently. But that's not the case with Dhoni.

"Don't get jealous of IPL" is the last reply any skipper can afford amid a commotion-like scenario. Without a doubt IPL has changed the way professional players pursue their cricket careers.

Franchise pressure has in the past forced half-fit players to play the IPL but take fitness excuse from national duty. Though that's not the direct issue here, it's indicative towards the fact that players are willing to sacrifice first-class domestic cricket but not the IPL. And that's why after the defeat at The Oval, Dhoni was questioned on the effects of IPL.

An embarrassing defeat like this will re-ignite such debates and a captain has to be rational with his answers. There's nothing wrong in admitting that 'Yes, our batsmen need exposure to county cricket to get used to difficult batting conditions'. But unfortunately it didn't come from Dhoni.

The expert opinion, for that matter, is also polarised on the issue of Dhoni's Test captaincy.

"We don't have anyone who can replace Dhoni. [Gautam] Gambhir has just made a comeback while [Virat] Kohli has been struggling. A captain, especially in Tests, needs to be calm and responsible; I don't see many who can do that," former India left-arm spinner Venkatapathy Raju told Cricketnext.

But spin-bowling great and former India skipper Bishen Singh Bedi strongly differed from Raju: "Despite the abysmal overseas record, both Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher continue to be at the helm," he said when contacted by Cricketnext.

Without a doubt there's more sense in Raju's words. After Kohli's flop show, India at present simply don't have anyone to replace Dhoni as Test captain.

A decision taken in haste will only make waste, but Dhoni should certainly act more responsibly.
First Published: August 19, 2014, 3:24 PM IST

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