South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg December 17, 2013

Dhoni starts afresh in 50th Test as captain

50

'Most crucial thing is to bowl well' - Dhoni

When he walks out for the toss at the Wanderers on Wednesday, MS Dhoni will have achieved a rare feat: having captained in 50 Tests a team that always plays under the scrutiny and pressure of expectation that the England football team or the All Blacks usually face. Only 32 years old, he often jokes about how he has greyed with the captaincy. There is a reason why no Indian has led in 50 Tests. Rahul Dravid, possibly the best on-field captain India have had, could manage the job for only 25 matches before resigning. Dhoni has obviously done some things right, one of which is that he might not even know that he is going to walk out for a 50th toss in whites.

When Dhoni had the seniors - Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag gave him some of their best innings - he did the job perfectly for the most part. He knew all he needed to do was make sure they were in a good space and the performances would be delivered. He managed the off-field stuff well, which captains will tell you is equally important, if not more - remember Ian Chappell's improvisation of a Bill O'Reilly line that even a collie dog can arrange a batting order and make bowling changes? Towards the end of the seniors' careers, Dhoni perhaps trusted a good thing for too long, but largely he could do his job staying in the shadow and under the radar.

Now, though, begins a new challenge for Dhoni. This is the first time he is captaining a side without any of his big guns. Even Gautam Gambhir is missing. India's six specialist batsmen have a combined experience of 42 Tests, only three of them in South Africa. Dhoni knows he needs to be more proactive without being overbearing.

"It will be quite different," he said on the eve of the match. "When all the seniors were part of the side, you didn't really have to worry much about how preparation is going because once you have played international cricket for a long time you know your game. At the same time you know how to prepare well in different conditions. Many of them had toured the same venues quite a few times, be it England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand.

"But with the new set of players, at times you have to guide them as to what needs to be done, and what are the areas where they need to improve," Dhoni said. "At the same time not getting too technical is also very important. Because you can't change your technique in five-six-seven days. What's important is to know your limitation, and at the same time know your strength."

An ideal scenario would have been a gradual phasing out of the seniors, so that some of them were around to take the new batsmen through their paces in away Tests. However, not for nothing is the India captaincy difficult. There are few ideal scenarios. Now all these young batsmen will have to go through this as newcomers. A newcomer, though, will find what Dhoni says reassuring. He is not imposing demands, he is not going to sit and say things would have been better with Tendulkar or Dravid or Laxman around. He is going to guide newcomers on how to prepare, he is going to leave technical matters to Duncan Fletcher, and he will ask that they give their best on match day.

Dhoni is also going to ask his bowlers to pull their weight, a demand sometimes not made because the senior batsmen used to clean up after them. "One of the most crucial things to do is to bowl well, because to win Test matches you have to score runs but at the end of the day we need to take 20 wickets," he said, when asked of the importance of batting well in the first innings. "So I think it will be very important to bowl in the right areas. [You need to] get used to the conditions really well. Try to hit the top of off stump because that's the ideal length irrespective of where you are playing. It's a bit of both, but of course we need to bowl really well. If we start well with that, we will carry off the confidence to other departments."

Dhoni will live with his bowlers not having the pace of Dale Steyn or the bounce of Morne Morkel, but he will want them to hit the top of off with the seam upright more often than not.

It's possible Dhoni doesn't let things such as legacy play on his mind too much. However, after the last two horror away tours put a downer on his good work as captain, his 50th is almost a fresh start for Dhoni when it comes to leading a Test side.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 18, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    and i forgot to mention....the fab four as described world over, were Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman.....

  • on December 18, 2013, 8:25 GMT

    thank god it is only 2 match series to reduce humiliation

  • humdrum on December 18, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    At any rate , India at its very worst, doesn't lose to Zimbabwe in a test match.LOL.

  • himanshu.team on December 18, 2013, 7:13 GMT

    I somehow feel it is good that no one expects this Indian team to even draw a test let alone win the series. This will ensure, more so with Dhoni at the helm, that there is no undue pressure of failure on anyone in the side.

  • deoshatwar on December 18, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    The result will largely depend on how Dhoni fares as a batsman and how he plays the rearguard along with Rahane and Ashwin. If Dhoni is in his elements as a batsman and is able to put a tiny bit of fear/doubt in SA attack, it will go a long way. Not to say that he will need to hit a double ton like he did against Aussies in India, a series India won convincingly.

  • Boopathy22 on December 18, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    He has brought a lot of trophies home before. Lets get ready for another one. All the best Mr.cool.

  • sandeepsingh19 on December 18, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    Please leave the guy. MSD is the best captain, whatever the format is. He knows his limitations. Smith has got Dale Steyn, Philander and Morkel but India don't have such pace and accuracy, but I think if Zak & team bowl well, he can do wonders. Y u guys forget the finals of WC, he came instead of Yuvi and took india to win. Recent final at WI with SriLanka, he did it again. Whatever the team he have he will do best, and if given guys like Dale Steyn or MJ, he can do anything on any surface. He have the courage and and courage to take courageous decisions which no one other have in the world. Smith, Clarke & all trust on their bowlers and so they bowl only at a set format but who will give bowl to a new person(as Mahi did in T20 WC), no one on earth have such courage dear all....

  • mrgupta on December 18, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    @ Naseer: Ya, its quite simple, India couldn't win their last series against SA and lost to England. You want to know some trivia? England lost to India when India visited them on their second last trip in 2007. SA couldn't win the test series against India when India last visited them and SriLanka too wasn't able to defeat India in the test series that the two teams played in SriLanka. Quality teams like Aus lost 2-0, 2-0, and 4-0 in their last 3 series played in India. This is simple, no matter whoever is the captain, whoever is the player.

  • on December 18, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    Posted by Saravanan Kuppuswamy on (December 18, 2013, 3:47 GMT)

    If he has to mention , He has to include Kapil, Gavaskar etc etc, He is talking about current skipper, wake up kid

  • on December 18, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    Naseer

    Theory doesn't do any good mate. Look at the practicals and talk.

  • on December 18, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    and i forgot to mention....the fab four as described world over, were Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman.....

  • on December 18, 2013, 8:25 GMT

    thank god it is only 2 match series to reduce humiliation

  • humdrum on December 18, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    At any rate , India at its very worst, doesn't lose to Zimbabwe in a test match.LOL.

  • himanshu.team on December 18, 2013, 7:13 GMT

    I somehow feel it is good that no one expects this Indian team to even draw a test let alone win the series. This will ensure, more so with Dhoni at the helm, that there is no undue pressure of failure on anyone in the side.

  • deoshatwar on December 18, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    The result will largely depend on how Dhoni fares as a batsman and how he plays the rearguard along with Rahane and Ashwin. If Dhoni is in his elements as a batsman and is able to put a tiny bit of fear/doubt in SA attack, it will go a long way. Not to say that he will need to hit a double ton like he did against Aussies in India, a series India won convincingly.

  • Boopathy22 on December 18, 2013, 6:54 GMT

    He has brought a lot of trophies home before. Lets get ready for another one. All the best Mr.cool.

  • sandeepsingh19 on December 18, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    Please leave the guy. MSD is the best captain, whatever the format is. He knows his limitations. Smith has got Dale Steyn, Philander and Morkel but India don't have such pace and accuracy, but I think if Zak & team bowl well, he can do wonders. Y u guys forget the finals of WC, he came instead of Yuvi and took india to win. Recent final at WI with SriLanka, he did it again. Whatever the team he have he will do best, and if given guys like Dale Steyn or MJ, he can do anything on any surface. He have the courage and and courage to take courageous decisions which no one other have in the world. Smith, Clarke & all trust on their bowlers and so they bowl only at a set format but who will give bowl to a new person(as Mahi did in T20 WC), no one on earth have such courage dear all....

  • mrgupta on December 18, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    @ Naseer: Ya, its quite simple, India couldn't win their last series against SA and lost to England. You want to know some trivia? England lost to India when India visited them on their second last trip in 2007. SA couldn't win the test series against India when India last visited them and SriLanka too wasn't able to defeat India in the test series that the two teams played in SriLanka. Quality teams like Aus lost 2-0, 2-0, and 4-0 in their last 3 series played in India. This is simple, no matter whoever is the captain, whoever is the player.

  • on December 18, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    Posted by Saravanan Kuppuswamy on (December 18, 2013, 3:47 GMT)

    If he has to mention , He has to include Kapil, Gavaskar etc etc, He is talking about current skipper, wake up kid

  • on December 18, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    Naseer

    Theory doesn't do any good mate. Look at the practicals and talk.

  • on December 18, 2013, 5:47 GMT

    india should be win the match.

  • Naseer on December 18, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    I think the theory is simple, no matter who is playing greats or new comers, but if they are playing in India they will win against ordinary teams, but if they are playing in England, SouthAfrica, England, Even Srilanka they will lose and if they are playing some quality teams in India as well they will lose like they lost to England and could not win their last home series against S.Africa.

    This is simple, no matter whoever is the captain, whoever is the player.

  • on December 18, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    he is great captain in limited overs format, but lot more desired in longer format. He let the game slip away, which in ODI is not much harm because opponents can bat only 20/50 overs. He is a great leader but poor tactician, I would say like Cook, though slightly better than him in tactics. Clark is great tactician but a poor leader (might change, he will earn a lot of respect with Ashes win and that will go a long way how his team see him). Misbah is average in tactics and not a strong leader. SL has just to get it right as well as NZ. Of the current lot Smith is a very good leader, little lower than Dhoni but much better in tactics. So overall, I would say Smith is best captain in current lot world around (in test cricket). Dhoni should leave it to either Rohit (provided a fix a place in XI for himself first) or Kohli.

  • sidganesh on December 18, 2013, 5:12 GMT

    Dhoni will be telling the batsmen to play out time. If each batsman can see off his first hour, the bowlers will tire and get frustrated, and batting should then be more comfortable. Having said that India's biggest challenge is that their opening pair is technically suspect and it might really be in the hands of Pujara and Kohli to bring in some semblance of dignity to the scorecard.

  • Rahul_78 on December 18, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    The biggest strength of MSD is he is not afraid to loose. He understands his teams limitations and is realistic with the expectations. I am sure none of Indian fans would like to see their team loose in SAF but at the moment it will be nothing more then a miracle if they manage to win a test their. India is without Rahul, Sachin, Veeru, VVS, and Gambhir. Any side in the world cricket would struggle to cope up and to replace the players of these caliber. No doubt the current crop is talented but we need to give them time to learn on the jobs. BCCI has given them no favors with the curtailed tour, the weather hasnt been kind to them and you cant expect any good will from the hosts after the recent tussles at admin levels. If this young team can show that they can compete with fired up SAF over five days and does not humiliate themselves with sub par performances then MSD will not be too unhappy with his team.

  • on December 18, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Easy to Criticize ! Hard to play! Hail Dhoni! All the best!

  • deoshatwar on December 18, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    One thing that has always worked in favour of Indian bowlers is that they have been perennially under the radar. But it is equally worth noting that whenever India have delivered, especially overseas, it is their bowlers who have bettered the expectations, batsmen just performed as expected [likes of SRT, RD, SG, VS/VVS!]. I think it is unwise to bring any attention to India's bowling, may that be to dilute opponents plans against the batsmen. This is like digging out your last bit of resource.

  • on December 18, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    It is going to be a challenge for Dhoni to come up trumps as a Captain in Test Matches in SA, but we will see a different MSD this time as he has learnt lots as a defensive captain of the past and if there was any indication that he has changed it was visible during the WI tour of India. He is one formidable captain and has learnt a lot during his tours of England and Australia. I am sure he is going to be very astute captain and bring home the bacon. The only thing for his team mates to do is the right thing, that is bat and bowl well, and he will take care of the rest.

  • SHER-A-PANJAB on December 18, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    India did not pay good respect to South Africa tour that is why SA team playing as a revenge ( insulted ) so Indian cricket team has to be very care full about these matches. They can fight well to win the matches but SA cricket is in good form but Smith.....! Let 's good cricket,,,good luck !

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:47 GMT

    mr.monga ..u ve not mentioned ganguly anywhere...he is the most successful captain in away tests..dont u know that..

  • backwardpoint on December 18, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    mmh. Since BCCI was not sure about a 4 test match series, shouldn't they have asked for 3 3-dayer tests instead? Whats the need for 5 days really? Logic being: they have prepared to play 2*5=10 days. So its just as easy to make it 3 3-dayers and still have about 1/2 sessions to relax and rest per match.

    Dhoni - best test captain. Indeed. Yeah.

  • sray23 on December 18, 2013, 3:37 GMT

    I think it is unfair to blame MSD entirely for these bad away tours. Like batsmen and bowlers, captains also needs time to adjust their thinking & strategies to foreign conditions. This is the 5th away tour in a row which has been so poorly planned by BCCI that it has left the team short of enough warm up games (Aus 2008, SA 2010, Eng 2011, Aus 2011 and SA 2013). India got away with it in 2010 because it was such a champion team playing AT THEIR PEAK. The only negative one can say is that he does not speak out publicly about these ridiculous away schedules! After all, it is his reputation taking a beating every time.

  • on December 18, 2013, 2:55 GMT

    Congrats MSD its going to be a challenge for New India out fit for the first time they are playing without Fab 4 Dravid sachin lakshman and ganguly you can include sehwage also and Gambhir. I hope India will do well here. Top order important for India especially opening batsman if they see off the new ball then India will be different team in Abroad bowlling will be led by Zak gud to see him after a long time. Hope to have a great series.All the best Team India

  • GRVJPR on December 18, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    @ BigINDFan, I completely disagree with you. He had to carry the burden of overaged cricketers well past their expiry age. He always do well with young players. Watch out for captain magician spelling his magic.

  • on December 18, 2013, 1:50 GMT

    This Indian team is an over rated team. If they were playing in India, then all the sentimentalist would have to afford them a series victory. In terms of the old adage, 'HORSES FOR COURSES', this Indian fits right in. They are looking at 2 nil. They cannot manage genuine pace bowling.

  • Leggie on December 18, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    @Yoohoo, one big difference between Rahul & Sourav was that Sourav had to first create this trend of winning at least 1 or 2 matches abroad and show that India can win abroad. He certainly achieved that with wins in Australia and England (and perhaps WI??). The team picked was also Sourav's hand-picked XI with NO regional bias - which in itself was a big "change" in the way the Indian selection committee operated. So, Dada was a change agent... a leader so to say. I'm also not a great fan of Sourav's on-field captaincy, but due credit should go to someone who laid the foundation to make a team believe in themselves first. Rahul was certainly a better tactician and it's a shame that he hung up too soon.

  • rohan34mca on December 18, 2013, 1:25 GMT

    Don't worry guys Sachin has made sure this wont be a 3-0 or 4-0 sobbing for him or his team, at the most it can be 2-0

  • on December 18, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    when we say MSD he is the most verstaile captain of all times ,he takes the game on its merit and encourages the youngsters and builds confidence . I duely admit ganguly was the captain who made us aware what sledging is from England and Australia and he stood to combat it , the first u would call for Indian But I am sure India will do well in South Africa......All the best ..Rohit shikar virhat and the macho man Dhoni........

  • Nampally on December 18, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    Congrats to Dhoni for his 50th Test Captaincy cap. Dhoni might be a great Captain for a short format but in Test format his field placing, bowling changes & Xi selection has left lot to be desired. His XI selection continues to puzzle the Cricket Fans. His expected inclusion of 6 batsmen + 4 bowler combo for a 5 Day test match vs. SA, if it is true will be another shocker! How can India play just 4 bowlers- which included aging ZAK- for a 5 day match? If any of these 4 is injured, which is highly likely, he is left with just 3 bowlers. This will be the worst decision unless he plans to bowl non bowlers & expects Miracles. Dhoni is a fine WK/Batsman but un Tests his record overseas is poor. He cannot improve that in SA Test series with 4 Bowlers!

  • salil247 on December 17, 2013, 23:49 GMT

    In "the last two horror away tours", the margins of defeat have absolved Dhoni's captaincy. When a team loses every single test by an innings, there is little a captain can do.

  • kbza86 on December 17, 2013, 23:30 GMT

    PROTEA POWER FOREVER!!. you know, I haven't seen a side this settled since the great Aussie team of the late 90s,early 2000s. look at thier ages: Morne:39 Smith:33 Steyn:30 verny:26 Amla:31 AB:29 JP:29 FAF:29 etc..thier all have reached the level most dream of. is it too soon to say that we will dominate the 2010's?? we all want to see india compete but I really don't see it happening. the confidence they gained from thier home series' made them VERY big headed in ODIs and couldn't believe the amount of quality we had on show..now that they know, I think they themselves don't believe they can realistically compete,which is sad.. scorecard summary stumps day 1: SA 278/1 Amla 106*, Smith 155* (toss India)

  • wake_up_india on December 17, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    Hope the young new Indian batsmen show more grit than the generations before them, going back to Nari Contractor, who have been annihilated by pace and bounce. The true solution to this problem lies in starting with groundsmen in India, not the players.

  • on December 17, 2013, 21:54 GMT

    task or goal setting for the batsman ??? only things for batsman to score runs. this is long or short term goals......

  • BigINDFan on December 17, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    MSD is a horrible uninspiring captain in Tests especially outside Ind. He is not going to change dramatically in his 50th test or this new phase in his Test career. However he should let that go and make sure he performs with the gloves and bat. He should ask Zak to guide the bowlers and ensure he gets everyone to field properly and be aggressive on the field. He should pick the best attacking XI. He should have a game plan and small goals for each batsmen - openers last one session and score 50 runs or more, top order score 100 runs, middle order 50-100 runs and lower order 50 runs. A score of 300 is a great achievement. The bowlers should defend 200-250 by attacking, do not let batsmen dominate - learn from Mitch Johnson.

    Losing should not matter but show lots of fight and believe you can win. The worse part of the 0-8 record was the meek submission to Eng and Aus.

  • Jey3 on December 17, 2013, 19:15 GMT

    Specialist batsman JPD is coming in at No.7, such is the power of South African batting. On one hand, Indian batting is inexperienced and did not get a single practice game and on the other hand, Indian bowling is so weak that only Zaheer looks genuine wicket taker; well Shami could be a surprise package, but otherwise I don't see this indian bowling taking 20 wkts that is required to win a test match.

  • Ranjit_sourav on December 17, 2013, 19:15 GMT

    Congrats MSD, Defenitely you are the best captain I have seen after Kapil and Dada whom trust their own instinct and belief to win matches. May be this series one of your trustworthy,whom we people doesnt trust (Ishant) will deliver you a memorable outing. You made Rohit from No-Hit to Hit man, Now make Ishant from Zero to Hero.

  • usernames on December 17, 2013, 19:03 GMT

    Rumy has been pushing for Jaffer from '09, quite laughable really.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    this puts things into perspective regarding sachin s fairytale farewell... I think its too harsh on a guy like rahane to be playing his 2nd test in arguably the toughest place to succeed...I don't really expect our batsmen to set the stage ablaze but they need to get some decent scores ... in the bowling dept I'm amazed at how one ODI spell is going to seal ishant s place for the next 3-4 tests at least... please bring in umesh (remember his 5-93 at the WACA last year?) ; he s the closest to what we can call a fast bowler... even if India manage a 1-0 defeat I think it l be an achievement... hope they don't suffer the same fate as WI did in India! good luck boys !

  • yoohoo on December 17, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    @sabarishreddy007 - dravid is best on field captain. Saurav was good off field, but was very poor on field and tactically. You can see their record. In 25 tests dravid won an overseas test series in WI, Eng and drew the series in SA. Ganguly did not win any test series outside subcontinent as captain, except zimbabwe.

  • yoohoo on December 17, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    @Rumy1 - i dont know which rock you have been living under. Bhajji is a pale shadow of himself, and Wasim Jaffer is 36 yrs old. This is no time to bring either of them into the team.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    @ abarishreddy007, What Sid is saying is right, Dravid is the most successful captain of Indian on foreign soil, but no one mention it except Sunny Gavaskar, who on mike said during Australia's visit to India earlier this year, Dravid as a captain beat West Indies in west Indies in 2006 in a competitive test series 1-0 (it would have been 3-0, if rain would have not intervened and that Windies side was pretty good than the present lot put together), than he beat England in England in 2007 1-0, he is the first Indian captain to win a test in South Africa, he has also lead India to series win in Pakistan leading from front in 2004 (When Ganguly was injured for 2 tests). And you are joking, Saurav was good captain on foreign soil he taught how to fight, but Rahul taught how to win, this is a difference. But his relation with Vengserkar made him to resign otherwise you would have seen Rahul Dravid retiring as the most successful captain of India in terms on more matches won too.

  • anupkeni on December 17, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    Before Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly has captained India in 49 tests.

  • Rumy1 on December 17, 2013, 17:46 GMT

    Given that pace and bounce of SA pacers on lively tracks in their own backyard will need a lot of skills, technique, temperament, and experience to deal with, Wasim Jaffer should have been the first opener for the Johannesburg Test. Jaffer is easily the best Test opener in India - even today and perhaps one of the three best Test batsmen actively playing in India. Hope selectors are listening.Steyn, Philander, Morkel will eat Vijay in first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track in SA and not sure if Kohli or Rahane have the technique to survive Steyn, Philander and Morkel at Wanderers. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to be adept to handle SA pacers.Also, I believe Ashwin will be a big flop in the Tests in SA. Likes of Amla, Devilliers and Kallis will dominate Ashwin's average skills.Sadly there won't be supporting dusty tracks of home to bail him out there.Bhajji should have been there in SA for Tests but could Bhajji be in with Dhoni at the helms??Point to ponder

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    Congrats MSD.Make 50th test as memorable one.All the best TEAM INDIA..

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    Terrific Captain in tests in home conditions. Away, those two tours are a black mark. But we had a great team so faulting him alone for that will be wrong. These away tours will tell us how good an away captain he is.

  • glen1 on December 17, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    Dhoni is the best thing to have happened to India's cricket; he has a little bit of everything; the modesty, the grace, the equanimity and so on. Added to that is a good measure of luck; luck in the sense of timing. The 8-0 whitewash of the past two tours can be blamed for seniors' transition, and any bad performance now would neatly dovetail with what is happening to England; yes some teams are not good at facing super-fast deliveries. All in all, he has a great record and deserves a Bharata Ratna, the day he retires from cricket!

  • Triple_A on December 17, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    Really good to see Dravid being acknowledged as India's greatest captain. Politics and undue pressure made him resign before he could be really termed great in the international arena. I would have replaced Dhoni with Gambhir after the 0-8 whitewash, but that's me. Doubt we'll see a change even if India performs badly in the upcoming 13 overseas tests - there isn't a solid leader in the pack yet. Kohli and Sharma are both finding their place in the test squad and should first ensure good form before being handed over additional responsibility. Pujara really isnt captain material either and there are no permanent bowlers in our test side to speak off whom we can thrust this added onus on. I'm pretty sure Dhoni will retire from tests sometime in 2015 and we will need to find a very strong leader to move the team onwards into the 2020's.

  • CodandChips on December 17, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    A captain of great players rather than a great captain. His batting in the longer forms has been much improved this year, but he is still poor behind the stumps. But in fairness he has led this new group of players well this year. But as the article mentions this is the true test for his captaincy. He has benefited though from the lack of decent Indian keepers, because non have really cut the mustard when given their opportunities at international level, eg Dinesh Kartik.

  • Lallubhai on December 17, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    I believe this young Indian team are more than capable as they showed by being the best team by far, recently in England, when they won the champions trophy. But being honest, how can anyone expect anyone to travel to foreign conditions and expect to acclimatise in 2 days with no match practice? Steyn & Morkel have been made to look far better than they really are, and they know it too.

  • sabarishreddy007 on December 17, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    it's a big joke that rahul dravid is the best captain before dhoni,then who is sourav ganguly who is known for good captaincy skills and overseas ferformances

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  • sabarishreddy007 on December 17, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    it's a big joke that rahul dravid is the best captain before dhoni,then who is sourav ganguly who is known for good captaincy skills and overseas ferformances

  • Lallubhai on December 17, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    I believe this young Indian team are more than capable as they showed by being the best team by far, recently in England, when they won the champions trophy. But being honest, how can anyone expect anyone to travel to foreign conditions and expect to acclimatise in 2 days with no match practice? Steyn & Morkel have been made to look far better than they really are, and they know it too.

  • CodandChips on December 17, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    A captain of great players rather than a great captain. His batting in the longer forms has been much improved this year, but he is still poor behind the stumps. But in fairness he has led this new group of players well this year. But as the article mentions this is the true test for his captaincy. He has benefited though from the lack of decent Indian keepers, because non have really cut the mustard when given their opportunities at international level, eg Dinesh Kartik.

  • Triple_A on December 17, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    Really good to see Dravid being acknowledged as India's greatest captain. Politics and undue pressure made him resign before he could be really termed great in the international arena. I would have replaced Dhoni with Gambhir after the 0-8 whitewash, but that's me. Doubt we'll see a change even if India performs badly in the upcoming 13 overseas tests - there isn't a solid leader in the pack yet. Kohli and Sharma are both finding their place in the test squad and should first ensure good form before being handed over additional responsibility. Pujara really isnt captain material either and there are no permanent bowlers in our test side to speak off whom we can thrust this added onus on. I'm pretty sure Dhoni will retire from tests sometime in 2015 and we will need to find a very strong leader to move the team onwards into the 2020's.

  • glen1 on December 17, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    Dhoni is the best thing to have happened to India's cricket; he has a little bit of everything; the modesty, the grace, the equanimity and so on. Added to that is a good measure of luck; luck in the sense of timing. The 8-0 whitewash of the past two tours can be blamed for seniors' transition, and any bad performance now would neatly dovetail with what is happening to England; yes some teams are not good at facing super-fast deliveries. All in all, he has a great record and deserves a Bharata Ratna, the day he retires from cricket!

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    Terrific Captain in tests in home conditions. Away, those two tours are a black mark. But we had a great team so faulting him alone for that will be wrong. These away tours will tell us how good an away captain he is.

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    Congrats MSD.Make 50th test as memorable one.All the best TEAM INDIA..

  • Rumy1 on December 17, 2013, 17:46 GMT

    Given that pace and bounce of SA pacers on lively tracks in their own backyard will need a lot of skills, technique, temperament, and experience to deal with, Wasim Jaffer should have been the first opener for the Johannesburg Test. Jaffer is easily the best Test opener in India - even today and perhaps one of the three best Test batsmen actively playing in India. Hope selectors are listening.Steyn, Philander, Morkel will eat Vijay in first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track in SA and not sure if Kohli or Rahane have the technique to survive Steyn, Philander and Morkel at Wanderers. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to be adept to handle SA pacers.Also, I believe Ashwin will be a big flop in the Tests in SA. Likes of Amla, Devilliers and Kallis will dominate Ashwin's average skills.Sadly there won't be supporting dusty tracks of home to bail him out there.Bhajji should have been there in SA for Tests but could Bhajji be in with Dhoni at the helms??Point to ponder

  • anupkeni on December 17, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    Before Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly has captained India in 49 tests.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    @ abarishreddy007, What Sid is saying is right, Dravid is the most successful captain of Indian on foreign soil, but no one mention it except Sunny Gavaskar, who on mike said during Australia's visit to India earlier this year, Dravid as a captain beat West Indies in west Indies in 2006 in a competitive test series 1-0 (it would have been 3-0, if rain would have not intervened and that Windies side was pretty good than the present lot put together), than he beat England in England in 2007 1-0, he is the first Indian captain to win a test in South Africa, he has also lead India to series win in Pakistan leading from front in 2004 (When Ganguly was injured for 2 tests). And you are joking, Saurav was good captain on foreign soil he taught how to fight, but Rahul taught how to win, this is a difference. But his relation with Vengserkar made him to resign otherwise you would have seen Rahul Dravid retiring as the most successful captain of India in terms on more matches won too.