Should Gambhir replace Dhoni as Test captain?
After leading Kolkata Knight Riders to their maiden Indian Premier League title last month, Gautam Gambhir's ambitions of being the next Indian captain received a fillip.
The very fact that he outclassed current India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team (Chennai Super Kings) in the IPL final gave rise to a debate whether the time is right to hand him the reins of the beleagured Indian Test team, which suffered two consecutive whitewashes, in England and Australia last year.
And, Gambhir, for that matter, pushed his case by expressing his desire to lead the Test side.
'I am ready for it. Ready for the responsibility of the challenge, because you want to take different challenges as well. That's where your mental toughness and character will be tested,' he said after the IPL final, on being asked whether he is ready to take over as Test captain.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly also gave his backing to Gambhir.
'As I've always said, there will be a question mark over Dhoni as a Test player. But Gambhir is an obvious choice in the Test format and gives an option to the selectors. It's a 20 percent chance though,' opined the Kolkatan.
But it is one's record alone, and not opinion, that should be the criteria when making a decision on India's next Test captain
Therefore, we look at how Dhoni and Gambhir have fared in Test cricket over the last four years. Check out their contribution to India's victories, at home and overseas, and be the judge.
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Statistics: Rajneesh Gupta
Gambhir more reliable with the bat than Dhoni
First, we compare Dhoni and Gambhir's record in Test cricket in the last four years.
It is clear from the table below that Gambhir, who opens in Tests, has proved a far better contributor with the bat than Dhoni.
What can be said in Dhoni's favour is that he bats lower down the order and mostly has the tailenders for company. But his technique and temperament are not suited for the longer version of the game, and in conditions like Australia and England he has struggled to make a mark with the bat.
Dhoni's average is a steady 48.73 in Tests played at home, but it drops to 33.44 when playing away from home.
Similarly, in Gambhir's case, there is a huge contrast in the home and away record, but it is still better than his captain.
Dhoni's performance in Tests in last four years (Home and Away):
Gambhir's performance in Tests in last four years (Home and Away):
Image: Gautam Gambhir
Gambhir's amazing record in away wins
A player's utility to the team is evident by his contribution in a winning cause.
And Gambhir is a big match-winner when it comes to Test cricket, especially overseas. He has scored 439 runs in four Tests, at an average of 73.16, in India's victories away from home, while his average in victories at home is 56.58.
Dhoni also dishes up an impressive average of 77 when it comes to contributing to victories at home. But his record away is poor, to say the least.
He has scored 223 runs, at an average of 31.85, in matches that India have won, clearly underlining his struggles with the bat away from home.
Dhoni's contribution in India's victories in last four years (Home and Away):
Gambhir's contribution in India's victories in last four years (Home and Away):
Dhoni's record as captain away from home is poor
Lastly, we look at Dhoni's record as captain in Test cricket in the last four years.
At home, he is a force to reckon with, having won 11 of the 17 matches played, for a win percentage of nearly 65.
But he has failed as captain away from home, having won just five of the 19 matches, for a lowly win percentage of 26.
His record as captain in the last four years stands as 16 wins, 10 losses and 10 draws in 36 matches, for a modest win percentage of 44.
Dhoni's record as Test captain in last four years:
Dhoni's captaincy came in for some sharp criticism during the series whitewashes in England and Australia. He not only struggled as the leader, but also failed to inspire with the bat.
The above-mentioned statistics and his shrewd captaincy in the just-concluded fifth edition of the IPL certainly indicate that Gambhir is the best man to lead India in Tests .
But what do you feel? It is time for Dhoni to give up the Test captaincy? Should Gambhir replace him?
Have your say!