Virender Sehwag has all the right credentials to be India's long-term captain

Like Mahendra Singh Dhoni (left), Virender Sehwag is very calm and unfazed on the field, not allowing the circumstances to get the better of him © Getty Images


By Sudatta Mukherjee


India have been outplayed in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The fourth and final Test at Adelaide is nothing more than an opportunity to regain some consolation by way of individual glory for the many underperformers in the team. A win in the last Test will, however, help India to go on a positive note into the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) that follows, as also the satisfaction of suffering yet another overseas whitewash.


India will be going into the final Test without their captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. A lot has been written and debated whether it is time for Dhoni to step down as Test captaincy and be replaced by someone young like Virat Kohli. Surprisingly, there is not much support for Virender Sehwag as captain – the man who will be leading at Adelaide in the absence of Dhoni, who will be copping a one-Test ban. Sehwag, the present vice-captain of the squad, has led India in three previous Tests. This will be his toughest challenge as leader as his previous outings as Test captain came against Sri Lanka in 2005, New Zealand in 2009 and Bangladesh in 2010. He successfully led the team to victory in two Tests – by 259 runs at Motera in 2005 Test against Sri Lanka and in 2010 by 113 runs against Bangladesh in Chittagong.


Sehwag certainly deserves to be in the running, should Dhoni step down or is replaced as captain. Even in ODIs, Sehwag has won seven of the eleven matches he has led India. Maybe the onerous task of leading the side could make Sehwag approach his batting with a degree of controlled aggression. His belligerent approach from the word go is something that is held against him by those opposed to him leading the national side as they feel he will not be in a position to command prudence from his team-mates.


If Dhoni is rightly praised for his cool demeanour at all times, the same could be said of Sehwag as well. He remains unfazed, whatever be the situation. But the point that could go against him – at least for the moment – is his poor form. But Sehwag is a class act and it’s only a matter of time he comes good. Let it not be forgotten that he has achieved what no Indian has: score two triple hundreds and narrowly missing a third. In his last ODI as captain Sehwag blazed to 219 off 149 balls – the highest in ODI history.


Sehwag has copious experience as captain. He is the skipper of the Delhi Daredevils and the Delhi Ranji Trophy teams. He is a very seasoned campaigner having played for India in 335 matches in nearly 13 years at the top. At 33 years, he is also a senior citizen of the team and thus commands much respect. Let’s not forget that Sourav Ganguly was 28 when he became the captain of India and Dhoni was 26 when he was made the national captain.


Both Ganguly and Dhoni took over as captain when Indian cricket was going through turbulent times. Ganguly was made skipper in 2000 after Sachin Tendulkar stepped down and did not want the job any longer. This was after the infamous match-fixing scandal which ended the careers of Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja. Ganguly did a brilliant job by marshalling the team to the 2003 World Cup final in South Africa.


In 2007, when Dhoni took over as captain, the dressing room was totally fouled up. Dravid, the captain of the Indian team, unwittingly got sucked into the poor man management of the then coach Greg Chappell. The team was an insecure lot and got beaten in the first round of the 2007 World Cup. But once Dhoni took over as captain, after a brief rein under Anil Kumble, Indian cricket scaled dizzy heights – the T20 World Cup win, the 50-over World Cup triumph and in between the No 1 Test ranking.


In the present Indian team, most of the senior players are around 30-33. At the other end, the youngsters are too young – between 23-24 – and too inexperienced. The only three who could be given the task of leading the team in Tests are Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir. But Yuvraj, sidelined by medical issues, has not done much to cement his place in the Test team. Both Gambhir and Sehwag are struggling to keep their places in the Test side. Suresh Raina’s technique has been exposed completely in Test matches and is definitely not an option.


Virat Kohli, who led the Indian to victory in the Under-19 World Cup victory, is the also a good bet. Those who are pointing as his age would do well to remember that Tiger Pataudi and Graeme Smith took over as captains of India and South Africa at a much younger age.


Dhoni has clearly indicated that if he is to play the 2015 World Cup, he would like to retire from one form of cricket. And in all likelihood he would say adieu to Test cricket in that case. Sehwag, at such a juncture, looks the most deserving to take over from Dhoni with Kohli coming in as second-in-command.


If Sehwag gives a good account of himself at Adelaide, in what is his toughest assignment as captain, he will do a world of good to enhance his chances of taking over from Dhoni, should that moment come soon.


(Sudatta Mukherjee claims to be a Jill of all trades and mistress of none. She is affable, crazy and a wannabe writer. Her Twitter ID is @blackrosegal. Oh yes! You do know her!)