Mahendra Singh Dhoni retired from test cricket on Tuesday, 30th December after India drew the third test match against Australia in Melbourne. Virat Kohli will captain India in the fourth and final test. What does Dhoni’s retirement mean for Indian cricket?
“India’s performance overseas has been bad. Dhoni was under a lot of criticism and pressure. The minute the third test was drawn, there was no chance of India winning or drawing the series. So, rather than hang in there, Dhoni took the decision of letting Virat Kohli take over,” Ayaz Memon, cricket commentator said.
Dhoni was India's most successful test captain, and he guided India to a record 27 wins. But, he has had the worst overseas record. Under his captaincy, India has lost 15 test matches abroad. The last time India won a series on foreign soil was way back in 2011. Since then, India has suffered 4-0 series defeats to England and Australia.
“We need to look ahead now. This opens up an opportunity for three people in the Indian team – a captain, a wicketkeeper and a batsman that can come down the order,” Chandresh Narayanan, former ICC Media Officer, said.
Memon and Narayanan both agreed that Kohli was the ideal choice to step into the captain’s shoes. “At this point, India needed fresh energy, fresh imagination, fresh ideas in the test match,” Memon noted.
“Kohli needs to learn to contol his emotions. The best thing about Kohli is that he holds his place as a batsman in the side. He can lead by example with his performances,” Narayanan added.
Discussing India’s test future, Memon observed that Dhoni prioritized limited-overs cricket over tests. Virat’s first job needs to be to think differently from Dhoni. The belief that test cricket is just as important needs to return, he said.
“Test cricket has got serious issues, irrespective of Dhoni. It needs a series of things to revive it. I don’t really know if the five-day format appeals to younger generations globally,” Memon added.
Both the panel experts highlighted bowling as the biggest problem ailing the Indian cricket team right now. “India needs a bowling attack that can take twenty wickets. The selectors need to find better bowlers. They are flush with money. Put the youngsters through camps,” Memon said.
Narayanan suggested a few changes to improve test cricket in India. “The BCCI needs to come up with a long-term vision and plan for test cricket. There are serious questions about the bowling that need to be addressed. Most test countries have a bowling consultant. Someone like Zaheer Khan needs to step up and perform that role for India,” he said.
“The whole system is very market-driven. The way the sport is run globally has changed. Earlier, the Ashes series used to be three and a half months. Now, it’s less than two months. The younger players are growing up with a mindset of knowing exactly how much opportunity exists. If a guy plays in the IPL for five seasons, he does not need a job for the next three generations,” Memon concluded.