Dhoni wanted rest before the 4-Test series against Australia and hence opted out of Irani Trophy. Being a captain, he selects himself so he’ll be most probably playing the series but does he really deserve the place on merit? He is having a tough time as a captain, as if overseas losses were not enough, he lost at home too.
Dhoni’s records in tests have been below average. He has played 73 tests, scored 3883 runs at an average of 38.06 with 5 100s. In the 36 tests at home, he has scored 2008 runs at an average of 43.65 with 4 100s, which is good, considering the fact that he comes to bat at no. 7. But his average goes down to 33.48 in 37 overseas tests with only one century.
After the 2011 World Cup victory, Dhoni has played 19 tests. In the 33 innings he played, he has scored 958 runs at a nominal average of 33.03 that too supported by some good runs at home against West Indies and New Zealand. In the 9 tests at home his average shoots up to 44.91 with 1 century and 4 50s but the average plunges to just 24.64 in the 10 overseas tests. The worst being West Indies where he scored just 74 runs at a low of 19.40, he did a bit better in Australia, where in 6 innings he scored only 102 runs at 20.40.
In the recent series against England at home which India eventually lost, not only his captaincy but batting too came under scanner, he scored 191 runs at 31.83 with 99 in Nagpur being the highest. It would not be right to criticise Dhoni alone, Indian team as a whole has been dismal in last two years. In 11 overseas tests, Indian team scored at an average of 25.35 with only 1 win and 8 losses, in contrast at home, India won 5, lost 2 and scored at an average of 39.12. The table below shows where Indian players stand in last two years.
(Since 2011 World Cup)
Of all the players, Sehwag and Sachin are the most experienced, Virat has shown a lot of promise and Gambhir is slightly better than Dhoni in terms of career average. Yuvraj was an emotional selection after his cancer and Raina will be sweating out in Irani Trophy to make his case for Tests. In terms of numbers, Dhoni falls behind but being a captain he makes it.
If not Dhoni, then who? Well, with 943 runs in 9 matches at staggering average of 117.63 in Ranji Trophy last season, CM Gautam of Karnataka is a strong candidate for the slot of wicketkeeper/batsman. That’s not all, Gujarat Captain Parthiv Patel is not that behind, he scored 895 runs at an average 0f 68.84 in 8 matches and is 4th highest scorer in Ranji last season after CM Gautam. Also Parthiv Patel has played before for India and has been in top 5 batsmen in Ranji for last 3 seasons but has been ignored by National Selectors.
Sehwag and Gambhir may be given one more chance as Team needs experience at top against the Aussies and this could be Tendulkar’s last series and in case of Dhoni, he is a fantastic one-day batsman but when it comes to test cricket, he is not there, at least the numbers say so.