With Dhoni back on the hitlist of experts, journalists and ex-cricketers after yet another forgettable overseas tour, this time, one hopes that the Asia Cup, World T20 and IPL doesn’t sweep these emotions under the rug. It is easy to lose track of India’s test record with so much limited over cricket coming up. Sweeping changes and outraging are likely to be forgotten in the haze of a sub-continental tournament- one where the test ‘stars’ can use to redeem themselves in the eyes of their temperamental fans.
Nevertheless, here is a plan to combat India’s trouble abroad- to join the million other armchair plans just waiting to be noticed by a bored Dhoni on an internet-surfing spree.
MSD must step down as test captain. Yes, there is no definite person to replace him yet, but it is not like every team bloods a future captain when their most successful leader is already in charge. Instinctive decisions like Graeme Smith taking over when he was 23, or Rohit taking over Mumbai Indians out of nowhere, have served their teams well over time. This can’t be contradicted with the usual ‘give me a better person to lead’ argument, which is already being used in political debates for the upcoming elections. Sometimes, it is just the right time for somebody to step down, irrespective of a ‘plan’. After all, it can’t possibly get worse than this. His record speaks for himself.
Forget Kohli, who is a potential leader, because why would Indians want to ‘endanger’ their best batsman and future records for the sake of a team (remember Tendulkar?) Instead, go with somebody whose spot is not fixed yet- try Dhawan or Rohit, maybe that will force them to take charge and be more consistent. Pujara is a good option too for a Dravid-like leader, but again, he is India’s best test batsman.
Drop Murali Vijay. No explanations for this. Bring back Gambhir, he will not fail again.
Drop Zaheer Khan– he will not survive another tour. Again, ‘better bowler’ debate? Well, try Yadav, Kumar, Rishi Dhawan, Mohit Sharma in alien conditions. They haven’t been tested enough, but atleast they will bring energy to the field. How can one judge an attack if they haven’t been given enough chances?
Ishant Sharma must NEVER be selected on subcontinent pitches. In any form of the game. Even abroad, he should be put on notice after every innings. The captains should be particularly hard on him- considering he just bowled his best and worst figures in the SAME match.
There is no place to run or hide: The England and Australia tours were the tours that started it all and destroyed Dhoni’s dream run. Things could come a full circle if Dhoni himself is replaced by perhaps a Karthik for now, and a Samson in the longer run. Dhoni can, of course, continue playing in ODIs and T20s- he remains the best option there. Still, a risk must be taken and a new leader must be chosen for these formats too. Strike them while they’re hot- go with Rohit or Kohli.
Put Rohit on notice in ODIs, don’t select Rahane on basis of test performances. Revamp the entire bowling attack in ODIs, retaining only Shami on a regular basis. Try pace options, and drop Ashwin till he goes back and improves. Promote Jadeja up the batting order to show him the meaning of the word ‘responsibility’. Pick rookie spinners like Karn Sharma, or go back to Mishra. Make them feel wanted. Because, honestly, it is not like India have an embarrassment of riches in this department.
Include Pujara in ODIs so that he doesn’t feel the pressure to perform only in tests. It showed in NZ, where he failed in all 4 innings. His worth needs to be recognized, and he must come at 3 (Kohli at 4) in ODIs for the right balance. Especially abroad.
Give Shami a long rope. As long as possible. Don’t let him compromise his pace (and economy rate). Let him continue taking wickets. Consistency will appear eventually.
Have different captains for Home and Away series. It is worth a shot.