Calcutta: Less than three years after his debut, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is all set to become India’s 30th Test captain.
As first reported by The Telegraph on Tuesday, Dhoni became the frontrunner after No.1 choice (of the selectors and the Board) Sachin Tendulkar decided against a third innings.
“There’s no change in the script, so to say… Dhoni is the one who is going to be appointed on Thursday,” a well-placed source confirmed late on Wednesday.
The selectors (Dilip Vengsarkar, Venkatapathi Raju, Bhupinder Singh, Sanjay Jagdale and Ranjib Biswal) will be meeting in Mohali, in all probability during the break in the second Indo-Pak ODI.
It’s not confirmed, but Dhoni could get the job for the Tests at home versus Pakistan and in Australia — a total of seven matches.
He’s already the ODI and Twenty20 captain and, so, there won’t be any break in continuity.
Nor is there going to be uncertainty/confusion, of any kind, in the dressing room.
Dhoni’s advantage is that he’s young (26) and has been able to carry the team with him. Indeed, he hasn’t been intimidated by the presence of former captains.
As important, Dhoni’s own performance hasn’t suffered and he’s respected by opponents (and, of course, teammates) for being courageous.
A stopgap scenario is never healthy, but veteran Anil Kumble — the dark horse — stands to gain if Vengsarkar and Co. decide not to look that far ahead.
That’s not expected, though.
In what’s unusual for Indian cricket, Kumble has expressed a desire (through a portal) for the top job.
Generally, aspirants don’t go beyond “no comments.” But, then, Kumble has never been your run of the mill type.
The buzz is that Sachin initially agreed (in principle) to become the Test captain, but had second thoughts as little would be gained by inviting so much more pressure. Tackling Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee is in itself a big enough challenge. There’s also talk that some in the BCCI aren’t exactly disappointed with the turn of events, for it won’t now be an all-West Zone or all-Mumbai line-up. Forget the cricket manager (Lalchand Rajput), even Team India’s masseur, Ramesh Mane, is a Mumbaikar! The BCCI president (Sharad Pawar) and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar are from Mumbai as well.
Is an absolute certainty in cricket’s longest version and is respected across the fraternity for being competitive with a capital C. In fact, privately, former coach John Wright had favoured him (and not Rahul Dravid) to succeed Sourav Ganguly, but the Bangalorean has only led in a single ODI (successfully, versus England at the Chepauk, in January 2002). Stands to gain if, at the last minute, the selectors have a rethink and decide on a stopgap captain — three Tests against Pakistan and four versus Australia. Doesn’t at all appear likely, but in the lead-up, Kumble is pretty much the dark horse.Interestingly, he has actually thrown his hat in the ring.
India's most successful Test captain hasn’t quite got the credit he deserves for injecting passion and steel in his players. Has been consistent since his comeback, 11 months ago, and was the best Indian batsman on view in the last Test series — in England. However, many with influence in the BCCI don’t seem to “trust” Sourav and just about everybody is convinced it’s time to look ahead. Has the hunger to play and, perhaps, even captain. Unfortunately, the selectors aren’t looking at him even as a stopgap option.