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Problems continue to daunt Indian Cricket

Ever since Gautam Gambhir led Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to an amazing victory over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in the finals of IPL 5, there have been advocates for his captaincy of the Indian team.

It may sound odd, but Gambhir was down and out after two harrowing Test series abroad and was replaced by Virat Kohli as the Vice-Captain of the Team.

But after leading KKR to IPL glory, he has staked his claim as the man to replace Dhoni, who looked out of sort as a skipper in the two devastating series in England and Australia.

Gambhir looks like a good captain. He is aggressive, leads his men from the front, and backs them to the hilt. By his own admission, he knows what insecurity does to a player, and hence tries to address the issue by creating a congenial atmosphere in which all players feel secure.

He had to fight hard to cement his place in the team and should be a better captain than someone who knows little about failure.

Swinging fortunes

Despite having scored well in first class Cricket, Gambhir remained in and out of the team and it was only in 2007-20008 that he finally established himself as a consistent player. He therefore knows the challenges faced by players.

He is ruthless on the field because he understands that captaincy is based on performance. Winning is everything for him and he would go to any length to achieve his objective. Like his batting, he subscribes to the theory of ‘winning ugly’ when he leads a cricket team.

Although the approach may differ, Dhoni is equally brutal as a captain. One may argue that he may not be as aggressive in Tests as he is in ODIs and T20s, but his brand of captaincy has worked in Tests too.

Apart from the last eight Tests in England and Australia, Dhoni did well as a Test skipper, leading India to the No 1 ranking for the first time.

Inept batsmen

Team India’s abject surrender in the last two Test series was due to the utter inefficiency of their batsmen against fast, short and moving balls, and not because of their captain. No captain in the world, not even the legendary Mike Brearley, could have saved them the blushes.

Apart from Rahul Dravid in England, no Indian batsman has done well in Tests, not even the man-in-demand Gautam Gambhir.

The English and Australian bowlers repeatedly took advantage of his technical deficiency against fast-rising balls outside the off-stump. The eight tests in which India lost cast a shadow over Dhoni’s credibility as a Captain. Gambhir scored low (50 and 83) on a batsman’s pitch in Sydney.

It was intriguing but Kohli’s elevation as the Vice-Captain in the place of Gambhir in the Asia Cup series that followed the Australian tour was not without logic, for he was the only Indian to score a Test century.

Should Dhoni be replaced as the Test skipper only because of the abject failure of the batsmen in the team?

India will not be playing Tests outside the Subcontinent before December 2013, but it would be difficult to speculate if a change in the captaincy would ensure the county’s victory.

As Gambhir said, ‘A Captain is as good as his team.’

We should try to improve our team than engaging ourselves with the debate to captaincy.

I believe we should address a number of issues to ensure the strength and quality of India’s future teams.

What are the reasons for our youngsters not being able to play short balls?

Why cannot we produce a fast bowler who can play international cricket for two full seasons?

Why can’t we find a single quality spinner to replace Harbhajan Singh?

I am sure that Indian Newslink readers who evince interest in Cricket, will be able to comment on these issues.

Raja Venkatesh is a banker by profession, writing on community and sports matters as a hobby. Readers may respond to editor@indiannewslink.co.nz

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