New Delhi: India has now lost their last three major series under Dhoni's captaincy including one at home, and the question pertaining to 'what now' was apt. Sunil Gavaskar favoured former cricketer Abbas Ali Baig's suggestion to make Kohli Test skipper but Atul Wassan was still circumspect.
England beat India at home after a 28-year-gap winning 2-1 in the Test series after the fourth and final match ended in a draw.
Gavaskar suggested that it is time the selectors look to the future now.
Gavaskar said,"Till the fourth day of the Nagpur Test, I would have backed Dhoni. Now that Virat has come up with a hundred under trying circumstances where he curbed his natural game, he discovered a good part about himself. He is ready to take on the mantle of Test cricket. That needs to be looked at in a positive manner by everyone concerned as that is where the future lies."
Former India seamer Atul Wassan said,"I have got this view point that one captain cannot be used for all formats. Certainly there is no alternative as of now and Virat is our future choice. But God forbid if the team keeps on losing and we have to sack him, who do we fall back on. The succession plan has to be in a phased format and has to be earmarked. Just like in Australia, we knew that Michael Clarke will be the next captain four years ago. Virat should be eased by the selectors in shorter formats since India is in a transition phase as of now."
When Sunil Gavaskar was asked about MS Dhoni's comments that 'he could not have done anything different on the Nagpur pitch', he came down hard on the skipper and said,"India could not get enough wickets on day 4. Also, they doddled around in the first hour on Day 4. If India had wanted to win the Test, they could have shown some intent by declaring on the overnight total or by asking the tail-enders to play slam-bang cricket. Yes, England batted well. But you do not put a forward short leg or silly point to get a catch there. You do that to force a batsman to give a catch some place else. Trott or Bell might have done something stupid then. India could have attacked more. But that's not the only reason India lost. Our bowlers were by and large ineffective."
Wassan and Gavaskar were also asked about the reasons that led to such a humiliating series loss.
"I think the complacency factor, which is a part of the Indian psyche. We can't do much. Everytime an Indian tries to be ambitious he is pulled down. No Indian will overtly show his ambitions. That's why we do not have killer mentality too. But when we won the first Test, that complacency came in. That chalta hai attitude. Even in Kolkata, batting in the second innings was very careless. There was no application. I do not think they wanted to win as badly as England did," Gavaskar said.
When Atul Wassan was asked the same question, he said,"Yes, that Kolkata match was a huge turning point. On brilliant batting pitches I never expected Indian batting line ups to fail so miserably. The tipping point was Dhoni's comments that 'we want turners'. By actually announcing that, we pressurised ourselves and more so after Mumbai loss. England bowled, batted and fielded better than us."
When asked about this being one of the worst phases that Indian cricket has gone through in the last 25 years, losing 10 Tests out of 17, Gavaskar said,"In the 1998-2000 period, team had looked totally helpless, out of place. Here, they were capable but just did not show the same kind of intensity as England.
On the question that whether today's cricketers feel that Test cricket is the pinnacle or not, Gavaskar said,"The present day cricketer who feels the need to establish himself does feel so but those with a few years of international cricket behind them perhaps do not give it that much importance."
He was very happy with Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli's performances but stopped short to name some 'experienced' men who did not appear to take the Test cap seriously.
"Looking at the Jadeja's, Kohli's you can easily see there is a recognition, appreciation there for Test cricket. It is some of the guys who have been around, who have done well in the past but are taking it a bit casually since the last couple of years," said Gavaskar.
Atul was asked the same question and he said,"For the masses/fans, T20 star is a bigger star than Test cricket. It is exciting the way we play Test cricket but when the time comes can we knuckle down. The only one I see ready for Tests is Cheteshwar Pujara. It has got to be horses for courses. Where are the Raina's and Rohit's who have played 100 odd one-dayers? Contemporaries always respect a better Test player than a flamboyant ODI scorer."
The cricketer-turned-commentator also said that it is time Sachin Tendulkar should make a decision on his career as he felt the senior batsman was no longer enjoying his time on the field.
When Gavaskar was asked about Sachin Tendulkar's future, he said,"The longest period on a cricket field is as a fielder and if Sachin is not enjoying that he will know that the time is right to go. Quite clearly, this series has not been a good one for him. I's sure he will reassess the situation as he had promised before the season. He does not play T20Is and I'm not too sure whether he will play ODIs against Pakistan. So he does have time before Australia series and you will have a decision sooner than later."
When asked whether the selectors should talk to him, Gavaskar said,"They should talk to Sachin if they feel that he is not a vital part of the team anymore. That is what they are paid for. In this Test in the second innings, Sachin did look a little bit lost and that is probably is a sign that the end is near."
Wassan said,"He is making the selectors take a call. He is judged harshly at times but has to take a call now."