Column: Time for Dhoni to step down

Column: Time for Dhoni to step down

We don’t need a soothsayer to tell us that in future Kohli will take over the captaincy from Dhoni in the shorter versions of the game thus earlier the better.



By Sunil K. Vaidya (sports Editor)

Published: Sat 27 Jun 2015, 11:57 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:48 PM

 Mahendra Singh Dhoni

All it needed was a Series loss to Bangladesh for a proverbial can of worms to open up in the Indian camp. But one voice, among so many, that I agree with is that the time has come for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to pass on the captaincy baton to Virat Kohli.

This is neither a witch-hunt nor a blame game. Dhoni must step down and continue to contribute in his capacity as a wicketkeeper and the best finisher of the game as a batsman.

He has done yeoman’s service to Indian cricket but ideally they should look at rebuilding the team for the 2019 World Cup under a new leader. And, the 2016 Champions Trophy can be an ideal dress rehearsal. Moreover, the team will also gel well under one style of play in the next four years.

At the moment if you read between the lines of some of the statements issued by the people close to Dhoni and Kohli, it seems that the team is divided into two camps. Well, let’s hope reality is different but even if you look at the playing styles of India’s Test captain Kohli and Dhoni in ODIs, they are vastly different. We don’t need a soothsayer to tell us that in future Kohli will take over the captaincy from Dhoni in the shorter versions of the game thus earlier the better.

So why wait and say if needed I will step down rather than gracefully make way like he did in Tests.

I have never been a fan of Dhoni’s captaincy, especially in Test matches. At the same time I would give him full credit for making the Indian team a formidable force in T20s and ODIs. In Test matches, he has always been an over defensive captain. He succeeded only at home on tailor-made pitches, otherwise he struggled in the longer version of the game. He has always been an instinctive captain and for his good fortunes those spontaneous decisions, like giving Joginder Sharma the crucial last over in the inaugural T20 World Cup Final, have turned out to be his master strokes.

Look at the Australian captains. In February 2002, their then captain Steve Waugh was brutally sacked and dropped from the ODI team after Australia failed to reach the tri-series final at home which allowed Ricky Ponting to prepare the team in his own style for the 2003 World Cup.

After winning two titles in 2003 and 2007, Ponting failed to make it a hat-trick and made way for Michael Clarke after losing to India in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal. Similarly, Clarke vacated the ODI captaincy for young Steve Smith after the 2015 World Cup.

Agree that the Indian cricketing set up works in a different style than the Aussies but some calls must be taken when the time is right.

I don’t blame Dhoni for India’s defeat to Bangladesh, rather credit hosts for playing better cricket. But I hope the Indian ODI captain soon paves the way for the era of aggressive cricket under Kohli’s leadership.


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