They say the night is darkest before the dawn, as a fan and ardent follower of Indian cricket I definitely hope that’s true. With the retirement of MS Dhoni, the baton of test captaincy has been passed onto Virat Kohli.
While the retirement of Dhoni has received mixed reactions, one is left wondering why he retired in the middle of a series. Dhoni has been a good captain, if not the greatest captain India has ever had, but his time as Test skipper has been up for a while now.
Failure to win matches which India ideally should have won bear testimony to the fact. One must also acknowledge the fact that unlike Sourav Ganguly , Rahul Dravid who were captains before Dhoni, had good bowling attacks which were a fine blend of spin and pace.
It is also noteworthy that India’s most famous overseas wins under them were setup or won by bowlers. Dhoni sadly in the last few years hasn’t had the most consistent bowling attack; a cynical observer might even call them poor.
They have been competitive throughout the Australian series, but the current opposition is the poorest faced by India over the last five tours down under and it must be said they will be disappointed to not have won either of the first two games.
Dhoni’s captaincy had little to do with collapse in Brisbane or the lackluster batting of the lower middle in Adelaide. But Dhoni’s insipid tactics allowed Mitch Starc and co to pile on the runs in Brisbane.
Dhoni is guilty of letting the game drift way too many times to ignore. Ideally he should have given up captaincy after the home defeat to England in 2012, but he has hung around long enough to be branded the architect of India’s demise as a Test playing nation in overseas conditions.
Virat Kohli impressed one and all with his flamboyant approach to the game as captain in Adelaide, while it is early days to make a concrete call on his captaincy, there is no doubt that there will be a different approach.
A fresh approach is much needed for this struggling Indian side and Virat could very much provide this. But it must also be noted that, his game awareness is very much questionable - it is safe to say that his untimely dismissals gave Australia the upper hand on three separate occasions during the current series.
Virat has to work on this aspect of the game, aggression can be a double edged sword and he must wield it with caution. If India is to reach the top in the Test rankings, they must develop the core of the side which will take them forward over the next five-six years.
A youngster like KL Rahul, who has a fantastic domestic record, cannot be dropped on the basis of a poor debut. Virat will be given the team he wants and allowed time to develop them into a winning unit both home and abroad.
This is India’s chance to take a deep hard look at its Test cricket and figure the best way forward as one of their best players retreats into the shadows.