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Australia in India 2008-09
Chappell: Dhoni should continue as captain
October 21, 2008
Ian Chappell on India's victory; the headaches for the Indian selectors and the worries for Australia
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Mahendra Singh Dhoni should continue as captain because he sets a wonderful example and a wonderful mood for India to play in. It would be a retrograde step not to keep him in charge of the team © AFP

Ian Chappell: What a way to celebrate Sachin Tendulkar breaking the world record for the most runs in Test cricket.

His team-mates have given him a wonderful present: a victory over Australia by 320 runs, which is the highest margin by runs that India have ever won a match.

It was a brilliant performance, and the important thing was that it was a great team performance. Everybody contributed to the victory and there were some wonderful landmarks for India along the way. First Tendulkar; then we had Sourav Ganguly getting a hundred and crossing 7000 Test runs.

But the man who set the tone for the whole victory, in my opinion, was the one who got the Man of the Match - Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I thought he set a wonderful example and a wonderful mood for India to play this Test in. Virender Sehwag, in particular, had a smile on his face during the whole match. He looked like he really enjoyed the style India played this match - in such an aggressive way.

On the fifth morning, with a magnificent little spell, Zaheer Khan made sure there weren't going to be any jitters in the Indian side. He destroyed the Australian batting with three quick wickets. At one stage he had the opportunity for a hat-trick but he wasn't quite able to do that. He bowled a magnificent delivery that got rid of Brad Haddin - one coming back in to the right-hander. Then he angled one across Cameron White and Dhoni took a good catch to get rid of him. And finally, Brett Lee had his off stump uprooted. It was a terrific spell by Zaheer.

His spell just further emphasised the difference between these two teams. When they came into the series, you would have thought Australia had the advantage with pace while India had the advantage in the spin department. Well, what we saw here in Mohali was India having the advantage all-round in bowling. The Indian quickies outbowled their Australian counterparts and there was absolutely no doubt about which team had the class spinners.

It was a wonderful all-round team effort from India. Fittingly Amit Mishra, who made such a terrific debut, finished the innings off. He picked up two wickets in the second innings to give him seven for the match. It was a wonderful debut for him.

Everybody in the Indian side had a smile. The skipper even presented Ganguly with a stump to remember this match by. As I said, there were smiles all around for India. They had comprehensively outplayed the Australians. At the presentation, the Australian captain Ricky Ponting even admitted they were outplayed in all departments, including fielding.

A couple of things looking forward: the Indian selectors have named the same squad for the next two Tests with Anil Kumble as captain. That is interesting because I think with the mood that Dhoni set as captain, India shouldn't really go back from here. They should move forward now with Dhoni as their Test captain. I think he makes so much difference to this Indian side that it would be a retrograde step to go back from that. If he is fit, Kumble could well come in to the team as a bowler. That would obviously depend on how he is bowling though. The problem for him is that he doesn't have any matches before the next Test to prove that his bowling is improving because he has got over the injury. So some selectorial headaches for India but at least they are positive ones.

For the Australians, there were not a lot of positives coming out of this match. Perhaps the batting of Shane Watson and Michael Clarke, in the second innings, and the bowling of Peter Siddle were the few positive things that happened for Australia.

India won this Test magnificently to celebrate Tendulkar's record-breaking match. It has been a wonderful game for India.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a a columnist

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Posted by Rajitha on (October 22, 2008, 11:34 GMT)

The next test match is crucial and changing a winning combination can be a big mistake. Dropping Laxman is also a silly idea, he is the one middle order batter who hasn't been among the runs and is due. Having said that I agree that India shouldn't follow the "hard hearted " Aussie method and not show due respect for a senior member of the side.

If Amit Mishra hadn't got any second innings wickets it may have passed through the selectors minds to drop him in favour of Kumble, especially since the match will be played at one of Kumble's favourite grounds / tracks.

If the next test is won then maybe giving Kumble the final match to end his career with can be considered. Also if Laxman doesn't score again this will make it even easier.

Posted by Naraen on (October 22, 2008, 11:02 GMT)

Dhoni indeed is a thinking captain, a very wise one as well. I completely agree with. I also would like to remind about the absence of Symo in this series. I think it is proving a disastrous decision for Australia.

Posted by Paul on (October 22, 2008, 10:19 GMT)

India outplayed Australia and Chappelli, your prediction about the poison challice journey is coming to fruition.

We were outplayed by the Indians and our batting seems to be too dependent on Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. If Matthew Hayden scores some runs in the next test match, he will make life a lot easier for Ricky Ponting and co.

I just wonder if Australia's succession planning under Andrew Hilditch is on the right track. Simon Katich isn't the long term solution to the opening position whilst Phil Jacques is the poor man's version of Kepler Wessels and Graeme Wood.

Our bowling attack is not a well balanced attack. Mitchell Johnson is coming along nicely, whilst Brett Lee needs a stock bowler at the other end. Stuart Clark was sorely missed whilst Peter Siddle is the ideal 3rd paceman who can perform the stock bowling role ie Dizzy style.

Posted by Girish on (October 22, 2008, 10:11 GMT)

It gets a little irritating when people talk about cricketers having SERVED the nation for so many years. The money is the prime reason why they so called serve the nation for so many years. I hate it when some cricketers say that they have given their sweat and blood for India. C'mon man.. thats ridiculous. I completely agree that they have to get paid for what they do and if the money is great as it is today, good for them. But to call it a service and claims of sweat and blood is all too much to take. Its a job like all of us do .. just that they represent the country and not an organisation like most of us. Hope to get some comments from you guys out there.

As far as captaincy is concerned, its only fair that the selectors give Kumble the whole series and ask him to retire at the end of the series. My reason for it is that someone like Kumble, who has been such an asset for the team for many years, has to go out well before all of us shoot him down.

Posted by Ilin on (October 22, 2008, 10:10 GMT)

well done very very lucky dhoni.anil bhai,pls dont play in next two matches.we dont want to change winning combination.aussies,if you want to win,then just remove that jinx greg chappel.he is very unlucky and brings bad luck for the team,with which he attached himself.he earlier drowned india,now its aussies turn.

Posted by Joe on (October 22, 2008, 10:06 GMT)

India will looe the series for sure if Kumble returns to the team... The old-fashioned thinking has to be put away if we want to see India winning... after all more than anything its important that india wins.

Posted by PRIYANTHA on (October 22, 2008, 6:27 GMT)

One interesting sugesstion was there to drop Lakshman and bring in Kumble. That will obviously weaken the batting. Although He hasn't been among big scores lately Lakshman has the capability to occpy the crease for long and make useful contributions even when he is not on top of bolwing as we saw in Sri Lanka test series. On the other hand there is no real need of a fifth bowler as 4 bowlers are doing the job. Spinners bowl well in pairs. They complement each other. We saw that between Ajantha Mendis and Murali. That was lacking in Indian spin attack in Sri Lanka series as well as in first test. So I do not think Kumble has a place in the team on merit. Also India cannot be complacent as next match will be series decider. Australia are hurt and they are going to fight back strongly. Individuals are not important at this stage. What is important is doing the right thing to win the series. Only captain in recent times deserved his place on captaincy alone was Mike Brearly of England.

Posted by Paddy on (October 22, 2008, 3:03 GMT)

Hi Ian,

You are spot on in urging the Indian selectors to continue with Dhoni as the captain. There a number of decisions he took which set the tone for an Indian victory. For example, the timing of his declaration which gave ample indication that he believed in his bowlers completing the job. Also, the manner in which he rotated his bowlers including use of Virender Shewag was quite refreshing. While Kumble has some good traits he is averse to taking risks as was evident in the Bangalore Test and unable to motivate his players to sieze the opportunity when it is there for the taking. Under him India will have fewer test wins and more draws. Dhoni epitomizes the New India - daring, self-confident and aspiring for success.

Posted by Pritish on (October 21, 2008, 22:20 GMT)

I agree that Dhoni is a good captain and its matter of time that he will lead the test team. But that does not necessarily make Kumble a bad one. While he may not come out as an agressive one, he is a very attacking cricketer and plays to win. I am sure he will know when its time for him to step down. We should just leave that to the Indian Selectors and enjoy Indian Victory.

Posted by Trent on (October 21, 2008, 21:47 GMT)

Well Ian Chappel does like to make brash statements about leadership changes. He may be right, but India would never drop Kumble before the end of this series. Timing and respect play major parts with any harmonious team. What the scary thing is for the Australians ( and the rest of the world) is Dhoni will very soon be the captain of the most confident and capable team in the world. It may be early, but Indias ascendancy to world number one seems inevitable under Dhoni.

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