India in Australia 2011-12 January 12, 2012

When the familiar doesn't work

It is difficult to pinpoint whether it is the bowlers that MS Dhoni doesn't trust, whether he is out of his depth tactically, whether he is not fresh enough on tours, or whether his strength is his biggest weakness
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On the second day of the SCG Test last week, Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, scored a double-century, and Ricky Ponting, the former captain, scored a century. They both sat next to each other in the press conference. Ponting was asked what he made of Clarke's use of the bowlers, field placements, bowling changes etc. Ponting said he was impressed, but was quick to add that all of that was the easier part of captaining a Test side.

Bill O'Reilly used to write that a well-trained collie dog could captain a cricket team. Ian Chappell, with all due respect to O'Reilly, wrote that it was his disregard for batsmen - often also the captains, and at some time or other the opponents of O'Reilly the bowler - might have had something to do with his views. Chappell, a highly regarded captain himself, went on to concede, "Certainly a collie dog could arrange a batting order, manipulate the bowling changes and direct fieldsmen. However, they are only a minor part of the tasks confronting a captain."

If managing other players, dealing with success and failure, creating a conducive environment for all to perform well, is the difficult part of captaincy, then MS Dhoni has that sorted. It's the easy part - field placements, bowling changes - that is under scrutiny. To get more precise, Dhoni has got the easier part in ODIs and in Tests in India sorted. It's the easy part of captaincy in overseas Tests that is under scrutiny.

The off-field stuff Dhoni does well. And the off-field stuff is more difficult to manage for an India captain than any other. He treats the two impostors, so to speak, almost just the same. His colleagues say that if they haven't seen the game it is impossible to tell from Dhoni's face if India have won or lost. He hardly bothers much about selection issues. He respects his team-mates, which greatly reduces ego issues. He is not into powerpoint presentations, and he doesn't interfere with how the coaches work. It's the coach's team until the toss; Dhoni takes over then.

When Dhoni takes over in ODIs, he does really well - he is a solid ODI batsman and has led the side to wins in the World Cup, Asia Cup and CB series. When he takes over in Tests at home, where he can control things better, where reverse-swing and spin - better allies of his than normal swing and bounce - hold sway, he does well. As captain, he has won 12 Tests at home and lost just one. Another possible big factor here is that he performs as a batsman in ODIs, and also in home Tests where mostly his role has been to provide quick runs to set up declarations.

When Dhoni travels away for Tests, though, both his captaincy and his batting seem out of place. His batting he says he can't do much about. That's the technique he has, and he can play the odd fighting knock here or there, or a counterattack that might involve some fortune. In the field, as a captain, he can look lost. As captain he has now lost eight away Tests out of 18, six of them on the trot.

A lot of Dhoni's captaincy has been about staying pragmatic, not getting swept away, waiting for a moment of weakness from the opposition, and pouncing on it with a degree of finality. In away Tests he tends to wait for too long. All modern captains tend to take a backward step with opposition tails, but with Dhoni it has become rote. It's as if he is not recognising the moments now, a natural gift great captains have.

Dhoni is still the best Test wicketkeeper - home or away - India have. The same can be said of captaincy when seen as a whole package. Dhoni will know that can't be reason enough to continue. India will need him to play a big part if they are to arrest the freefall. To use one of his jokes, he will have to be the parachute

Dhoni's tendency to let those moments pass has been well documented here, here, and here among other places. Added to these were instances in England. During the Lord's Test, when a pre-lunch burst on the fourth day from Ishant Sharma had given India an outside chance, Dhoni began the post-lunch session with Suresh Raina, which was surprising despite the absence of Zaheer Khan. In the next Test, he withdrew the attacking fields for Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, and paid the price.

It is difficult to exactly pinpoint whether it is the bowlers that Dhoni doesn't trust, whether he is out of his depth as a tactician, whether he is not fresh enough on tours because of the amount of cricket he plays, or whether - most plausibly - his strength is his biggest weakness. The said strength is that Dhoni plays the game on his terms. Unlike with his batting, he doesn't venture into the unknown as captain. He keeps it simple there. Even in South Africa, a depleted side led by him won two ODIs through his use of part-time spinners, a trusted trick.

Dhoni tries to take what he knows to wherever he is playing. When out of his comfort zone, though, it hasn't worked. The batsmen covered up for it in Sri Lanka and in South Africa, but in England and Australia the side, and aspects of Dhoni's captaincy, have been ruthlessly exposed.

Going into Perth, 8-0 is a distinct possibility. The more difficult part of captaining India still seems to be in his grasp. Amid rumours that the team is disintegrating, amid criticism that the side resembled a picnic party, amid losses, Dhoni has not lost humour. It depends on your taste if you find his humour funny or not, but the humour is there. He is not treating the impostors too differently. Asked if a whitewash in Australia would hurt him more than the one in England, he said, "You die, you die. You don't see which is the better way to die."

If India do die, though, the humour will cease being funny. Dhoni is still the best Test wicketkeeper - home or away - India have. The same can be said of captaincy when seen as a whole package. Dhoni will know that can't be reason enough to continue. India will need him to play a big part if they are to arrest the freefall. To use one of his jokes, he will have to be the parachute.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | January 13, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    just have to reply to choksaka sth. Sir, just cuz sub-continent teams, Pak, Lanka & India dont perform well on bowler friendly wickets... Doesnt mean there is anything wrong with them, i think u would rather have a snooze fest, or a muddy wickets the sort are prepared in India for 5th day spin.. then a lively pitch. Cricket is ashamed...

  • POSTED BY B.C.G on | January 13, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    @chokkashokka-minefields eh.....................Aus-150/0 on the very same pitch,SA scored 300+ in 50 overs.It mysteriously gets activated to minefield status only when asian sides play there.

  • POSTED BY here2rock on | January 13, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    He should not be in the side. He lacks vision in test matches and his batting lacks depth required at number 7 batsman in the side.

  • POSTED BY atrivedi101 on | January 13, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    OK, wise guys, so who do you suggest as Dhoni's replacement as captain, and why? Enlighten us.

  • POSTED BY chokkashokka on | January 13, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    it is nor Dhoni's captaincy that is at fault - it is these minfields that are getting served up in austrlia, england and SA. Cricket is going to get polarized like it has never been ever in the history of cricket. Another Worls Cup finalist bowled out for under 50 runs in 20 overs over there in another minefield calle SA. What do you think India and SL are going to serve up to the grass grazers when they arrive in the sub continent. They will truly be devored by square turners that will await. Here what makes preparation of such rubbish wickets an ominous sign for test cricket - (i) Indian audiences will stop watching their beloved team on foreign tours (ii) advertisers will reserve their money for domestic tours (iii) players will stop going on foreign tours - whats to gain? (iv) foreign boards will go bankrupt without India (look at Pak) and curators of these wonderful grazing fields will have take up sheep herding or mow lawns for a living. What rich rewards - bounced. Publish that.

  • POSTED BY on | January 13, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    I am not sure if Dhoni is to be blamed to the extent that he is being now. Of course the captain has to take it on the chin when things go wrong and there is no doubt that things have gone horribly wrong both in England and in Australia. The real problem has been that our batsmen, Dhoni included are brilliant at home and that is it. The ones who generally score heavily abroad like Sehawag, Dravid and Lakshman have all failed. I think Flethcher is an overrated coach and his influence on the team has been minimal and clearly he has not shared his knowledge of Australia and its conditions with the Indian bowlers. And Dhoni has been let down by his bowlers too . It is difficult to consistently win test matches with one bowler Zaheer Khan. Dhoni"s captaincy abroad is indicative of how the Indian cricket team he leads. We are poor travelers and will continue to perform poorly with or without Dhoni unless our batsmen forget the IPL and go play in the English cricket league or in Australia

  • POSTED BY serious-am-i on | January 13, 2012, 4:29 GMT

    wow! Kohli retained his place, every one knew Laxman wouldn't be dropped poor Rohit, if he gets a chance next match and fails in it, he would be rested for ages now.

  • POSTED BY ihaq1 on | January 13, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    India unfortunately donot rely on teh captain...lately they have had only zaheer khan...if he bowls properly than they do well in tests...they now have other bowlers too..when an indian spinner fails like ashwin than something is wrong...probably a captain more involved than standing behind teh wicket...i dont think dhoni can become emotional from behind teh stumps or talk to teh bowler about what is going wrong...when things are on automatic as they are in teh indian team than u just depend on teh individual doing well rather than tactics or studying opposiion batsmen...many suggest most of their tactics is based on we wont let u play in india...the way dhoni has'nt changed the batting lineup after several failures shows that he is either not too keen to change or adapt teh team to teh situation

  • POSTED BY moko58 on | January 13, 2012, 3:24 GMT

    India has the largest number of cricket enthusiasts since we are the largest cricket playing nation on Earth. It is unfair if the same set of 11 people represent this burgeoning set of people time and time again. Also, this current set of seniors have achieved everything they wanted in terms of wealth, fame, records and victories. There are many youngsters who will show a lot more pluck and fight if given a chance. The problem with the cricket administrators in India is that they live in a cozy bubble and fail to notice this disconnect. The fans don't mind India losing under Dhoni but they do mind the lack of a fight in the last 6 test matches. We seem to be promoting good will and cricket at the expense of a good fight. We need brand new faces who may lose due to inexperience, but will at least take it down the wire.

  • POSTED BY SouthPaw on | January 13, 2012, 3:17 GMT

    @Skooby: Well said! I think India has to rethink the way the team is made. Have horses for courses rather than thinking about the stature of a player. You should have the guts to drop someone like VVS or Ishant if they are not delivering over a period of time.

  • POSTED BY on | January 13, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    just have to reply to choksaka sth. Sir, just cuz sub-continent teams, Pak, Lanka & India dont perform well on bowler friendly wickets... Doesnt mean there is anything wrong with them, i think u would rather have a snooze fest, or a muddy wickets the sort are prepared in India for 5th day spin.. then a lively pitch. Cricket is ashamed...

  • POSTED BY B.C.G on | January 13, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    @chokkashokka-minefields eh.....................Aus-150/0 on the very same pitch,SA scored 300+ in 50 overs.It mysteriously gets activated to minefield status only when asian sides play there.

  • POSTED BY here2rock on | January 13, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    He should not be in the side. He lacks vision in test matches and his batting lacks depth required at number 7 batsman in the side.

  • POSTED BY atrivedi101 on | January 13, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    OK, wise guys, so who do you suggest as Dhoni's replacement as captain, and why? Enlighten us.

  • POSTED BY chokkashokka on | January 13, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    it is nor Dhoni's captaincy that is at fault - it is these minfields that are getting served up in austrlia, england and SA. Cricket is going to get polarized like it has never been ever in the history of cricket. Another Worls Cup finalist bowled out for under 50 runs in 20 overs over there in another minefield calle SA. What do you think India and SL are going to serve up to the grass grazers when they arrive in the sub continent. They will truly be devored by square turners that will await. Here what makes preparation of such rubbish wickets an ominous sign for test cricket - (i) Indian audiences will stop watching their beloved team on foreign tours (ii) advertisers will reserve their money for domestic tours (iii) players will stop going on foreign tours - whats to gain? (iv) foreign boards will go bankrupt without India (look at Pak) and curators of these wonderful grazing fields will have take up sheep herding or mow lawns for a living. What rich rewards - bounced. Publish that.

  • POSTED BY on | January 13, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    I am not sure if Dhoni is to be blamed to the extent that he is being now. Of course the captain has to take it on the chin when things go wrong and there is no doubt that things have gone horribly wrong both in England and in Australia. The real problem has been that our batsmen, Dhoni included are brilliant at home and that is it. The ones who generally score heavily abroad like Sehawag, Dravid and Lakshman have all failed. I think Flethcher is an overrated coach and his influence on the team has been minimal and clearly he has not shared his knowledge of Australia and its conditions with the Indian bowlers. And Dhoni has been let down by his bowlers too . It is difficult to consistently win test matches with one bowler Zaheer Khan. Dhoni"s captaincy abroad is indicative of how the Indian cricket team he leads. We are poor travelers and will continue to perform poorly with or without Dhoni unless our batsmen forget the IPL and go play in the English cricket league or in Australia

  • POSTED BY serious-am-i on | January 13, 2012, 4:29 GMT

    wow! Kohli retained his place, every one knew Laxman wouldn't be dropped poor Rohit, if he gets a chance next match and fails in it, he would be rested for ages now.

  • POSTED BY ihaq1 on | January 13, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    India unfortunately donot rely on teh captain...lately they have had only zaheer khan...if he bowls properly than they do well in tests...they now have other bowlers too..when an indian spinner fails like ashwin than something is wrong...probably a captain more involved than standing behind teh wicket...i dont think dhoni can become emotional from behind teh stumps or talk to teh bowler about what is going wrong...when things are on automatic as they are in teh indian team than u just depend on teh individual doing well rather than tactics or studying opposiion batsmen...many suggest most of their tactics is based on we wont let u play in india...the way dhoni has'nt changed the batting lineup after several failures shows that he is either not too keen to change or adapt teh team to teh situation

  • POSTED BY moko58 on | January 13, 2012, 3:24 GMT

    India has the largest number of cricket enthusiasts since we are the largest cricket playing nation on Earth. It is unfair if the same set of 11 people represent this burgeoning set of people time and time again. Also, this current set of seniors have achieved everything they wanted in terms of wealth, fame, records and victories. There are many youngsters who will show a lot more pluck and fight if given a chance. The problem with the cricket administrators in India is that they live in a cozy bubble and fail to notice this disconnect. The fans don't mind India losing under Dhoni but they do mind the lack of a fight in the last 6 test matches. We seem to be promoting good will and cricket at the expense of a good fight. We need brand new faces who may lose due to inexperience, but will at least take it down the wire.

  • POSTED BY SouthPaw on | January 13, 2012, 3:17 GMT

    @Skooby: Well said! I think India has to rethink the way the team is made. Have horses for courses rather than thinking about the stature of a player. You should have the guts to drop someone like VVS or Ishant if they are not delivering over a period of time.

  • POSTED BY Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on | January 13, 2012, 2:34 GMT

    Monga, I take my hats off to you for this piece. Just a couple of days back I commented on Sanjay's article that only you came up with an article on Dhoni's captaincy and here you go, you brought out another in your face article. Hats off. But shame that you left out the Fidel-Shiv Combo drawing a game from the jaws of defeat. Thanks for reminding us about the Malinga-Samaraweera Combo. I forgot about that completely. My my! What a horrible captain! How well our batsmen's splendid efforts neutralised his horrible captaincy all along. Now that they are struggling, people can easily see his 'cool' moves.

  • POSTED BY Abhimanyu on | January 13, 2012, 2:05 GMT

    I completely agree with Sidharth Monga. This is the best India test team we had in years!! and major thing that needs to be corrected is Dhoni defensive captaincy, yes there are lot of other things that could be done as well but again if Dhoni starts playing attacking cricket then things will turn around for sure!

  • POSTED BY on | January 13, 2012, 2:01 GMT

    Here's a simplistic explanation - when Ponting had chock-full of greats to call upon, he rarely lost. McGrath and Warne made bowling plans, Hayden and Langer did early damage, then he simply set about beating allcomers to pulp with Gilchrist. At present, with ageing batsmen, and absolute greenhorns as bowlers - Dhoni doesn't have that luxury anymore. Simply put, if 1/2 players misfire, he doesn't have the men who can step up. He is an honest, level-headed man .. but that's that. The second issue stems from the first .. because he has few 'go-to' men, he can rarely be a gambler, he is forced to be a banker, which might withstand good individual performances, but can't arrest good team performance.

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | January 13, 2012, 1:24 GMT

    The side winning the toss appears to have good chance of winning because the pitch broke up in the past & Ambrose took 7 wkts. for 1 run. The ball bounces so high that the WK has to stand a long way back. This may enable fast runners to take a single while the ball travels to the WK ! The side winning the toss is likely to bat first and hope the wicket breaks up later. The green top looks so deceptive and will hide all the surface cracks - great job by The curator. So the heading of this article appears to be appropriate - When familiar does not work. India should make use of unconventional surface to get their batting & bowling work in their favour after winning the toss.

  • POSTED BY hakapuu on | January 13, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    @jdhillion: India has won in england (the series before this), drew in australia and south africa in the last series! They have also won in west indies and new zealand! I am not sure where you are getting your facts from before saying "india hasnt done well or rarely done well outside the subcontinent like sri lanka and other subcontinent teams"! Infact the horrid truth is both pakistan and sri lanka have never done anything outside the subcontinent unlike india. I dont remember them both even have drawn a single series in S.Africa/Australia or England in the last 10 yrs!. Infact I dont think they have even drawn a series in W indies or New zeland in the last 10 yrs!

  • POSTED BY Meety on | January 12, 2012, 23:36 GMT

    Good article, Dhoni is a set of contradictions! @ truebleue_cricfan - areuggesting Dhoni should move up the order? I think captaining this current Indian side as a #7-wicket keeper, personal batting performance should be the least of his concerns.

  • POSTED BY RichDeGroen on | January 12, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    great article. insightful writing. I've thought Dhoni's captaincy as a tactician is suspect since I saw NZ tour India last year. Even at home I felt like his primary mode was to wait for his bowlers to do their job without any particular plan or vision that was discernible. And then he VERY quickly went onto full defense. I never got the feeling that he was hungry for wickets, or tactically trying to advance the game. NZ drew the first 2 tests playing away to the top ranked test side in the world and it felt like they'd hardly had to sweat for it. Eventually Dhoni's bowlers did do the job in the third test (a part of the blame needs to be taken by the Indian groundsmen who produce baked mud and call it a test wicket). But this passivity of Dhoni's has been ugly to watch in England and now in Aus, where he has looked bereft of any idea except containment. It's poor captaincy. They need 20 wickets and if he's not going to back his bowlers then its already lost.

  • POSTED BY rogermal57 on | January 12, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    Dhoni now that India has lost first 2 tests, you don't have anything to lose, so to speak. You can be more fearless now, less conservative. So if and when you see a chance with Aussies losing top order wickets, go for the jugular! What is the worst that can happen - the lower order can only hit over the top of infield and make some quick runs but it gives you a chance to take those extra catches that might come your way with the sharp bounce in Perth. I am sure India will rebound in Perth,,,watch out Aussies. Didn't mean to preach to the choir..I am sure Dhoni knows - in ODIs go back to what you do best, saving runs!

  • POSTED BY Skooby on | January 12, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    @Thomas Cherian: Team India is doing exactly the same thing what Albert Einstein once quoted as Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In case of Team India, playing with the same eleven again and again and expecting different result.

  • POSTED BY xtra on | January 12, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    I liked the article. enjoyed reading it. It has lot of good analysis on the method of Dhoni and which of them works and which not. I also would like to mention though the point Ian Chappel raised while commentating. There was no joy or communication to say the least while India was fielding. They were mute. It was an ugly site when it was exposed by Ian because it was truly there throughout the test. I hope the team mood is changed when they come to field in Perth and show more energy. If the team is bored while playing, how viewers can enjoy watching them?

  • POSTED BY moBlue on | January 12, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    @objective_cricfan: you pointed out the obvious, though it had escaped me so far! now i realize why i find the IND losses to ENG and AUS dispiriting [as i did once upon the losses in SA in 2002 where IND started out with fighting centuries from sachin and sehwag on the first day of the first test, and then lost the plot!]... the reason is that, as you point out, the IND teams in the 80s, even against the mighty WI, always fought and clawed, even as they lost, what with gavaskar, vishy, amarnath and kapil being amazing fighters! in the 4 ENG tests, we had one fighter, dravid... and now in OZ, sachin has fought hard, but not with conviction [sometimes, you could sense he had given up!]. i hope the awesome VVS wakes up at perth - and has some luck - for that is one dude who never ever gives up [despite what has happened to him in OZ so far], and i hope sehwag clicks at some point. the lack of a true fight by IND so far is what i find depressing!

  • POSTED BY rsurya on | January 12, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    Dhoni should atleast pretend that he is making plans in the field to trap the batsman out instead of just praying for good luck to get a wicket. Dhoni's bowling change is like investing in share market without knowing the fundamentals. High risk low returns. But otherwise for a man of his stature he is a gem.

  • POSTED BY niraj13 on | January 12, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    There has been a lot of talk about the seniors not performing. But, Dhoni's captaincy has been one of the big reasons for the team's failures. It was really evident in the SCG test. For 2 days, India could only take one wicket & not once was Dhoni seen to be talking to any of his bowlers. On the contrary, when Pattinson was hit for just a few boundaries during India's batting, Clarke ran up to him & had a chat with him. These are little things that make a difference. Don't need to talk to your players after every delivery, but if for a long time, things don't seem to go your way, you need to give your bowler a word of advise or a pat on the back to encourage them. Besides this, India need some other changes. If nothing else, they can just shuffle the batting order. Bring Gambhir & Dravid lower down the order and get Laxman & Kohli a bat higher up. Think of something that will surprise the opposition or may be make them unstable. You can't expect different results doing the same things.

  • POSTED BY linusjee on | January 12, 2012, 18:30 GMT

    It is interesting that you lament Dhoni's captaincy but pay no attention to teamwork. As any individual who has played even high school cricket could tell you, no captain of any team or for that matter, in any walk of life, knows everything. It is therefore incumbent upon the vice captain and other senior players to offer advice and direction to the captain should they see problems such as you describe. What exactly is the role of the vice captain (Sehwag) if not to provide advice and guidance as required? Do you really expect Dhoni to have all the answers? If so, you live in a world different from mere mortals. Much greater blame should be heaped on the shoulders of these so called "senior" players who have not only not performed but are as culpable of flaws in directing the team as Dhoni.

  • POSTED BY VickGower on | January 12, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    I have to say, IMHO you have got it all wrong. Yes, his batting has been sub par, but as you yourself allude to, he is an all-rounder, and he is doing his primary duty very well. I mean it would be great if India's top 6 could take an occassional wicket, or bottom 3 could score consistent runs. No, the problem with Indian test cricket lies in players not even performing their PRIMARY functions well. As to the issue of passive captaincy...I don't think it is so hard for a player who has captained all other formats so well (he has won every champtionship of note) to see that perhaps he should persist in attacking the tail. No, criticizing him for that is simply a case of pundits trying to earn their living. The issue is simply the tools he has at his disposal in Test cricket where aside from Dravid in England, India has been getting next to nothing from its TOP 6. You have a team that can't consistently bat, bowl, or field. God cldn't divine tactics to compensate for that.

  • POSTED BY on | January 12, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    We are going to enter third test with almost same team inspite of failures talk about being foolish....if something does not work try more of the same seems to be the logic here

  • POSTED BY jdhillon on | January 12, 2012, 17:25 GMT

    Changing a Captain or any of the team member will not change the outcome. India has never or rarely done well outside of India or subcontinent. It is true for all the subcontinental teams - look at Sri Lanka. And, it is not going to change unless the core problem is addressed. In my opinion, it will get worse as more and more players are playing more cricket and T20/1Day match.

    The core problem is Indians can't play in seam or bouncy pitches. The simple solution is to have each test cricket playing member to play in English Counties every year for at least 2 to 3 months. There should not be any exception.

  • POSTED BY Rahulbose on | January 12, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    You seem to have kept clear of the obvious issues with Dhoni as a test captain. Right since he has been captain he has relied on the seniors in the side and has supported them in selection. Take Laxman, his spot has been more stable under Dhoni than under anyone else including Dravid. But now what India needs is a bold Captain who can challenge these seniors to prove their fitness and ability in the field. Or he can take the easy way out and just wait for the series to end.India will be playing home tests for next two years so the smart choice is to just wait it out.

  • POSTED BY m_kamb on | January 12, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    look at the picture and tell me which shot is he playing?h.....gully cricketer.

  • POSTED BY hi_cricfan on | January 12, 2012, 16:46 GMT

    Awesome Article as always Sidharth. Keep it Up.

    Dhoni if you are reading this , please wake up and atleast try to win instead of sitting back and waiting for something to happen. For God's sake , drop the conservative approach and try to get wickets or double/triple centuries will keep coming against India.

    Couldn't agree more. It's so frustrating and disheartening to see same mistakes ( I believe deliberate ones ) as Indian Cricket Fan.

  • POSTED BY objective_cricfan on | January 12, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    Dhoni as a captain has been badly exposed in Eng & Aus, not because of the defeats but the way India capitulated. India has lost many series abroad but since 1971 rarely has India given up without a fight, even in West Indies against an all conquering team in the 70's & 80's our batsmen fought on batterer and bruised or Australia in the 90's & 200's except once under Sachin who unfortunately was a failure as captain. Dhoni may be retained in the Shorter formats as captain but we urgently need a better test captain. If Sehwag gets his batting in order he is the best bet for now.

  • POSTED BY RohanBhalerao on | January 12, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    What an article Mr Monga! Keep going.. Articles like these from the cricinfo team makes my day!!!

  • POSTED BY B.JyothyMuthukumar on | January 12, 2012, 15:35 GMT

    Sorry to say Dhoni, u r a flop as a test batsman especially in overseas condition. Someone should let him know that wearing India Cap is a Privilege, but not his birth right. Captaincy aside as a test batsman he should either shape in or ship out.Period

  • POSTED BY Rakim on | January 12, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    "Certainly a collie dog could arrange a batting order, manipulate the bowling changes and direct fieldsmen. However, they are only a minor part of the tasks confronting a captain." Well said. Thats why Imran Khan is the greatest captain of all times.

  • POSTED BY backwardpoint on | January 12, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    beginning of the end. time will tell. time BCCI and the selection committee starts looking at various wicket keeping options and also blood middle order bats. This is becoming too common now to shove under the carpet as one off incidents. the time is now. When there is going to be a lull period in 2012 as far as tests are concerned. Which would mean most sr of the test team would leave just because they got tired of waiting for the next test series.

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | January 12, 2012, 14:13 GMT

    Dhoni is a self taught product from Village India,not known for Cricketers. He knows the game only one way - his way- tactics, field placing & team selection.He is not a born leader but captaincy was thrust on him.His batting style is unconventional and footwork sometimes Bizzare. But he was lucky enough to get the job done due to heroics of the batsmen. In England with a crippled line up, the batting failed. In Australia with an intact line up, the batting did not produce big numbers to supplement the bowling deficiencies, resulting in 2 losses. Since Dhoni's tactics - or shall I say non-tactics - are not working he will have to modify them. Team India really needs more than 4 bowlers & it has no designated all rounders. For Perth he will have to go with 4 seamers & shift his batting line up to get 2 spinners out of Rohit Sharma & Sehwag.The batting line up has to shift into top gear to produce big numbers & bowlers must take 20 Wkts. Otherwise the series is over in dismal failure!.

  • POSTED BY on | January 12, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    i am glad india r loosing.otherwise this very very ordinary captain would have gone down as a great captain.i kept writing about how pathetic ms dhoni's captaincy was even when he was winning.afterall winning is different frm captaincy.but cricinfo is very choosy in publishing readers comments

  • POSTED BY s3ns3 on | January 12, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    The entire article is useless. Aus media has cracked the problem - SRT has incapacitated the entire think tank (DF, MSD) and worker bees (RD, RS (one on bench)). CI is not true to journalism spirit.

  • POSTED BY ravi_hari on | January 12, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    Elevation of Dhoni to captaincy was the best thing to happen to India in the past few years. However, Dhoni himself did not imporve on his leadership abilities. He looks the same captain as he was in the first T20 WC giving Joginder the 'title' over and getting away with it. He expects everyone to be a Miss-bah! Success at home early as test captain has also helped cover up his inabilities and the WC victory has blinded everyone. Most visible drawback of Dhoni is his lack of expression when India was white washed by England, unable to white-wash Windies at home and away and being drubbed in the first 2 here. Whether he does it in the dressing room or not, it does not reflect in the team's performance. Dhoni is a poor test batsman. His technique is flawed and bowlers all over the world have sorted him out easily. He gets away in ODI and T20 due to field restrictions. He is unable to lead from front in tests which is affecting the team performance. Do we have a better choice to replace?

  • POSTED BY Captain_Crick on | January 12, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    Nice analysis on M.S.D. - Man Sent by Destiny! He's an awesome T20 and 50 overs captain. There's still scope for improvement when it comes to captaining a test side. However, it's easier said then done!

  • POSTED BY on | January 12, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    One of the classic example of Dhoni's waiting game paying off is IPL 2011. He also did that to an extent in the WC. I just get the feeling that the - fact that he has had unbelievable success in the shorter forms with that approach has - narrowed his capataincy a bit - which gets exposed in away tests more often than not. I would ask Dhoni to spend some time with Ian Chappell - who is a pretty good captaincy material to help him come out of this mould. To me there are just 2 reasons for the 6-0 away result - #1 Batting letting the team down #2 Dhoni's captaincy - I think the bowlers are doing OK.

  • POSTED BY truebleue_cricfan on | January 12, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    Well, if he leads from the front as a batsman, it will make things a lot easy for him and the team. The team will have someone to look upto, especially the youngsters. Now I am guessing they are under the impression that the captain himself is failing, so he will surely understand if I too fail. And that seems to be reflected in Dhoni's post match interviews as well. He shrugs off his poor batting as something that is not cause for concern, and thereby defends the other batsmen who have failed as well. I sometimes think he tries to simplfy things far too much that he doesnt pay enough attention to stuff he should be concerned about. Winning and losing are part of the game, but that doesnt mean you want to be satisfied with a 50-50 win/loss ratio. That approach places you at the middle of the table, not at the top of the table where India once were. An average team that believes in the law of averages, a statistical phenomenon adhered to by their captain.

  • POSTED BY on | January 12, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    After the recent drubbing, the only reason for many indian fans to look forward 2 perth was how would rohit sharma fare on a bouncy track against quality pace attack aprt from sachin' ton. It was right in a sense v get to know of a future prospect who is held very high by none other than Ian chappel. But dhoni is doing what he did in england. There he persisted with raina & here with kohli. One more failure will surely shatter virat's test career. So instead of easing him out he has doubled the pressure on him. Hope he doesn't go raina way!

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  • POSTED BY on | January 12, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    After the recent drubbing, the only reason for many indian fans to look forward 2 perth was how would rohit sharma fare on a bouncy track against quality pace attack aprt from sachin' ton. It was right in a sense v get to know of a future prospect who is held very high by none other than Ian chappel. But dhoni is doing what he did in england. There he persisted with raina & here with kohli. One more failure will surely shatter virat's test career. So instead of easing him out he has doubled the pressure on him. Hope he doesn't go raina way!

  • POSTED BY truebleue_cricfan on | January 12, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    Well, if he leads from the front as a batsman, it will make things a lot easy for him and the team. The team will have someone to look upto, especially the youngsters. Now I am guessing they are under the impression that the captain himself is failing, so he will surely understand if I too fail. And that seems to be reflected in Dhoni's post match interviews as well. He shrugs off his poor batting as something that is not cause for concern, and thereby defends the other batsmen who have failed as well. I sometimes think he tries to simplfy things far too much that he doesnt pay enough attention to stuff he should be concerned about. Winning and losing are part of the game, but that doesnt mean you want to be satisfied with a 50-50 win/loss ratio. That approach places you at the middle of the table, not at the top of the table where India once were. An average team that believes in the law of averages, a statistical phenomenon adhered to by their captain.

  • POSTED BY on | January 12, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    One of the classic example of Dhoni's waiting game paying off is IPL 2011. He also did that to an extent in the WC. I just get the feeling that the - fact that he has had unbelievable success in the shorter forms with that approach has - narrowed his capataincy a bit - which gets exposed in away tests more often than not. I would ask Dhoni to spend some time with Ian Chappell - who is a pretty good captaincy material to help him come out of this mould. To me there are just 2 reasons for the 6-0 away result - #1 Batting letting the team down #2 Dhoni's captaincy - I think the bowlers are doing OK.

  • POSTED BY Captain_Crick on | January 12, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    Nice analysis on M.S.D. - Man Sent by Destiny! He's an awesome T20 and 50 overs captain. There's still scope for improvement when it comes to captaining a test side. However, it's easier said then done!

  • POSTED BY ravi_hari on | January 12, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    Elevation of Dhoni to captaincy was the best thing to happen to India in the past few years. However, Dhoni himself did not imporve on his leadership abilities. He looks the same captain as he was in the first T20 WC giving Joginder the 'title' over and getting away with it. He expects everyone to be a Miss-bah! Success at home early as test captain has also helped cover up his inabilities and the WC victory has blinded everyone. Most visible drawback of Dhoni is his lack of expression when India was white washed by England, unable to white-wash Windies at home and away and being drubbed in the first 2 here. Whether he does it in the dressing room or not, it does not reflect in the team's performance. Dhoni is a poor test batsman. His technique is flawed and bowlers all over the world have sorted him out easily. He gets away in ODI and T20 due to field restrictions. He is unable to lead from front in tests which is affecting the team performance. Do we have a better choice to replace?

  • POSTED BY s3ns3 on | January 12, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    The entire article is useless. Aus media has cracked the problem - SRT has incapacitated the entire think tank (DF, MSD) and worker bees (RD, RS (one on bench)). CI is not true to journalism spirit.

  • POSTED BY on | January 12, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    i am glad india r loosing.otherwise this very very ordinary captain would have gone down as a great captain.i kept writing about how pathetic ms dhoni's captaincy was even when he was winning.afterall winning is different frm captaincy.but cricinfo is very choosy in publishing readers comments

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | January 12, 2012, 14:13 GMT

    Dhoni is a self taught product from Village India,not known for Cricketers. He knows the game only one way - his way- tactics, field placing & team selection.He is not a born leader but captaincy was thrust on him.His batting style is unconventional and footwork sometimes Bizzare. But he was lucky enough to get the job done due to heroics of the batsmen. In England with a crippled line up, the batting failed. In Australia with an intact line up, the batting did not produce big numbers to supplement the bowling deficiencies, resulting in 2 losses. Since Dhoni's tactics - or shall I say non-tactics - are not working he will have to modify them. Team India really needs more than 4 bowlers & it has no designated all rounders. For Perth he will have to go with 4 seamers & shift his batting line up to get 2 spinners out of Rohit Sharma & Sehwag.The batting line up has to shift into top gear to produce big numbers & bowlers must take 20 Wkts. Otherwise the series is over in dismal failure!.

  • POSTED BY backwardpoint on | January 12, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    beginning of the end. time will tell. time BCCI and the selection committee starts looking at various wicket keeping options and also blood middle order bats. This is becoming too common now to shove under the carpet as one off incidents. the time is now. When there is going to be a lull period in 2012 as far as tests are concerned. Which would mean most sr of the test team would leave just because they got tired of waiting for the next test series.

  • POSTED BY Rakim on | January 12, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    "Certainly a collie dog could arrange a batting order, manipulate the bowling changes and direct fieldsmen. However, they are only a minor part of the tasks confronting a captain." Well said. Thats why Imran Khan is the greatest captain of all times.