India news February 18, 2014

Dravid: Dhoni needs to take risks to win overseas

ESPNcricinfo staff

Dravid: Dhoni needs to take risks to win overseas

Rahul Dravid has said that MS Dhoni's captaincy has been "defensive in critical situations". Speaking to ESPNcricinfo after the Wellington Test, which ended in a draw after India had been in a dominant position on day three, Dravid said Dhoni would need to take more risks to win Tests overseas.

"I think he [Dhoni] doesn't trust his bowling attack as much as I think he should," Dravid said. "I saw that even in the Test match in Durban, where he didn't take the new ball till 146 overs. In fact he was forced to take the new ball. He didn't trust his fast bowlers to be able to take wickets. He kept playing with the older ball because he wanted to control the runs. So I think that is a slightly defensive mindset that he's got into.

"I think he's got to realise this very quickly, that if he wants to win Test matches abroad, he's got to risk it all. He's got to take that chance that he's going to have to lose some Test matches. The only way you can win abroad is to take a few risks, take a few gambles."

Overseas, Dhoni has captained India in 23 Tests, of which they have won five, lost 11 and drawn seven. At home, his record is much better - 21 wins, three defeats and six draws. Asked if he should continue as Test captain, given India's upcoming Test tours to England and Australia, Dravid said Dhoni deserved a chance to set his record right.

"I've always seen this year of Indian cricket as these four big overseas tours, which is South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia, with the World Cup next year in Australia," Dravid said. "Let's presume that Dhoni is going to be India's one-day captain and take India into that World Cup. I think he's earned the right to do that.

"In Test matches, I always saw these four Test [tours] as Dhoni's opportunity to redeem what has been a pretty poor overseas record for him as captain. He's achieved everything else. He's won one-day tournaments, he's won a World Cup, Champions Trophy, he's taken India to No. 1, he has a great record in India, [he] just hasn't had the results outside of India. And I think he deserves the right, the chance to play out this year, and assess it at the end of the Australian series. End of that series, we'll really know where Indian cricket stands and where Dhoni stands, both as a player and as a captain.

"But so far, look, there have been a few disappointments in the way he's not been able to win, I guess, two Test matches in the last four, [having] been in really really strong positions, but look, you can't always blame him. It also comes down to the quality of bowling attack that he has, and yes, so I'd like him to have an opportunity to be able to correct that poor overseas record."

Martin Crowe, the former New Zealand captain, said it might help India's chances of defending the World Cup if Dhoni steps down as Test captain and hands over the reins to Virat Kohli.

"The first thing I think you must do with any side, particularly a Test side, is you must pick the best team," Crowe said. "And then once you've picked your best team, you pick your best captain from that team. So I guess I throw out the question that if you didn't want Dhoni as your captain, then who would it be, and I think Virat Kohli is perhaps a little too young for that. I think he needs to get through the next World Cup.

"However, I would say that if India want to defend the next World Cup, I think MS Dhoni needs a rest somewhere, at some point, not necessarily from playing, but maybe it could be by not captaining the Test side for a period leading into the World Cup, to refresh him so that he can hit the ground running for that World Cup. So there's a couple of things to ponder there. I think he's an absolutely gifted player, a marvel at times, given all the formats that he plays, but I do wonder sometimes about how he regards Test cricket. Just a point that I'd like to throw in there. Overall, MS Dhoni is an incredible cricketer, and I think that the main fact is that he probably can't keep doing every format from here on in."

Dravid agreed that Kohli had the credentials to captain the side, but said it might be better for him to take over after the tours of England and Australia.

"I think that World Cup is going to be the watershed moment, and two big series in England and Australia, and after that I believe it will be time for [Dhoni], both personally and for Indian cricket, to assess whether it's time for a new man to take over," Dravid said. "Luckily, in some ways, we've got Virat Kohli, who's playing beautifully, so it's not that you don't have somebody waiting in the wings.

"You've got a young player who has, by all accounts, led before. He's led India Under-19 before, he's led Delhi before, he's led North Zone, he's got leadership experience. It's just that he needs to, like Marty [Crowe] said, establish himself little more as a player and by the time, come World Cup, with two more tough series of England and Australia behind his back, and hopefully with runs behind his back, I thInk he'll be ready to take over."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • aravind on February 25, 2014, 12:39 GMT

    Dravid may be wright considering the fact the test cricket is being played in the recent years (5~7) where likes of newzeland pushing for wins under the conditions,irony to this indian bench strength has been not so good to back the pace bowling,where dhoni has to rely on the tiring old horse Zak or new fresh legged shami which is diffcult as a captain to build the pressure to produce a wicket at regular intervals & continue to take 20 wkts to win a test match,contrasting to this is feilding agillity to cash on 1/2 chances which goes down,as dhoni wrightly says Indian pace attack is not known as other department whihc are fired up unlike other asian southpaw pak,srilankan's where replacements has been genuenly good ofcourse with their own problems...with this BCCI has to invest more on pace bowling, overseas matches to be in contest of test cricket.

  • Sanju on February 21, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    It's easy for Dravid to comment on Dhoni's Captaincy from the pavilion. One can always point out that the great Indian team in their full strength lost in the qualifiers of WC 2007 under Dravid. And MSD captained India to a WC victory in 2011. Dhoni is the greatest Captain India has ever produced and whatsoever anyone says can change that fact. A team is only as good as it's weakest link & there are lots of weaknesses that the Indian team and the management has to tackle. Dravid or any other Indian Captain, has the stature to comment that MSD's leadership is the cause of our team's failure. Virat is a great batsman & has good leadership qualities which needs to be nurtured. This Asia Cup will be a good foundation for him, but I believe that Dhoni should remain Captain for at least another three years so that Virat will be fully capable of handling the Captain's role.

  • J on February 20, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    @ cricketsunami You must have forgotten about the test series victory in England in 2007, their first triumph in England since 1986. It was under Rahul' captaincy. FYI . He is such a fine talent who can talk and question about Dhoni's captaincy.when you have bits and pieces of cricketing knowledge and talk about RD, why can't a cricket genius talk about MSD's captaincy? So before you speak think twice. And with the little pieces of knowledge on cricket you cannot become a cricket guru. So know the game and players well.

  • Naresh on February 20, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    GREAT ARTICLE to read. @arvind - DROPPED CATCHES could be added to your list as well. Test cricket is more about gritty players, Does India have those?

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    what we can do or captain do when crucial catches were dropped to oppositions key batsmen and they went on to win matches. what about umpiring decisions. Better to accept DRS system.

  • pavan on February 20, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    This is a very young team and it has be recognized that Indian cricket is undergoing transition where legends have left. During this time of team building, I think its only fair to give the team more chance. Looking at this team's performance in last two overseas tournaments it is not bad when compared to the performance with the stable team (star-studded) which struggled in England and Australia. Coming to Dhoni's captaincy, I dont think there is no one more efficient or worthy enough currently to replace him. Kholi is still young and needs more mentoring before he can handle captaining. Defensive or offensive depends on the bowling resources available at the hand. In India people are restless/fast food culture and have a very bad habit to bring down their heroes/achievements ignoring the realities and assessing dispassionately.

  • Channan on February 19, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    As long as you play cricket you will drop catches. Which one of you played cricket and never dropped a catch? India's problem is not only dropping a lot of catches, their FIELDING is atrocious. That is putting it mildly. Go back and watch Ashwin bowling. Dhoni has a mid-on short to save singles and unless the ball is hit straight to the fieldsman he lets it pass. If it is hit softly they take two. Against NZ, that is no run. All the teams playing against India get easy runs like this all day. And you jokers have the gall to say it is Ashwin (bowlers)who leak runs. If you have ever played cricket you get sick looking at India's fielding.

  • Ravi on February 19, 2014, 15:25 GMT

    Another thing is preparation before you go to series. You need to simulate the foreign conditions and practice in it. If you are going to New Zealand or England Have hard bouncy Green wickets in Dharmasala and practice there. The wind will be something similar to NZ and England. For SA and Australia go to MRF pace foundation and practice there. You also have McGrath there who can give some tips for the bowlers. Dubai has pitches of exact same type from 10 Different countries. Funny thing is Dubai is just an associate nation whereas India generates billions and still don't have one like that.

  • Nish on February 19, 2014, 15:18 GMT

    MSD shows total rigidity in sticking to certain players or in his team composition - despite failure after failure! We saw how his 2 spinners or just 3 seamers policy didn't work in SA in Tests or ODI's but despite this, he persevered with this in NZ too & we again got drubbed or threw away winning opportunities. He chooses these bowlers, then shows no confidence like he did in the Durban Test & handed SA a win + Kallis a farewell century! With a better captain choosing the right players, we could have won both the Test series in SA & NZ but ended up losing them due to him! Anyone would think he has a winning team the way he sticks with his favourite players & not give others a chance! He then spouts this rubbish saying 'he has a settled side, his bowlers has done well, he sees improvements' etc - probably sees this wearing rose-tinted glasses! With him still in charge, I can see us being comfortably beaten again in England & thrashed by a resurgent Aussie team. Time for change NOW!

  • Ravi on February 19, 2014, 15:15 GMT

    Continued... But I would always say Indian Fielding and Bowling was scratchy. Even the best of the fielders dropped simple catches. I always sympathized for Srinath for the numerous catches that was spilled in slips. A team's bowling is as good as its fielding. And the bowling was sporadic too. They would bowl amazing for the first 6 wickets and it would take them for ever to claim the remaining four. It is just not MucCullum's partnership with tailenders. This has happened many times in the past which has led to Test failures. Key thing is getting the combination right. You cannot have a strong batting lower order at the cost of bowling. If top 7 cannot perform neither will your 8,9,10 and 11. For me 8 to 11 are Genuine wicket taking bowlers with some batting ability that can scratch around.