Is MS Dhoni still the right man to lead India? If he isn't, then who are the contenders to replace him? Ayyaz Malik runs the rule over some of the leading candidates.
We have learnt over the years that every great leader’s empire has to come to end, whether it be Julius Cesar who was in control of the Roman Empire or any other leader; one thing is always the same - their reigns do not last forever.
In cricket, or sport in general, the same applies, whether it be Steve Waugh who captained Australia to a lot of International success or even Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
India captain MS Dhoni apparently hinted during the recent Test series defeat to England that he will step down as the Indian national team captain. Dhoni is one of the most successful Indian captains of the modern era. Wins in the World Cup (2011), the Champions Trophy (2013) and the inaugural ICC World T20 (2007) ensured nothing short of hero status for the man they call ‘ice cool’.
With all that success the 32-year-old has achieved as captain for his country, on Saturday the win in the third One-Day International against England saw Dhoni equal Mohammed Azharuddin’s record of 90 wins as ODI captain.
Love him or loathe him this man has shown how to lead a team, so why the speculation you may ask? On the flip side India have been poor away from home in Test matches and the alarming slump has led many to believe if the wicket-keeper is the right man to lead his country.
For now though, we believe he is, but due to his age we feel to help Dhoni prolong his career then he should hand the captaincy over in the near future. Here we took a look at five players who we feel could succeed Dhoni when he does step down or retire.
The 32-year-old might be a surprise to some that we have put him on the ‘shortlist’ - but Gambhir is an undoubted leader and does boast of two IPL crowns with Kolkata Knight Riders. If Dhoni does retire sooner rather than later then don’t count this man out of the running to succeed him, with 4,000 or so runs to his name it’s fair to say this man does have some runs under his belt.
The KKR skipper has recently been drafted back into the side after a long absence, so that would most likely count against him and being the same age as Dhoni would make it an illogical choice to appoint him in the grand scheme of things, but Gambhir has shown he has a good leader.
In what was an otherwise miserable tour of England, Rahane’s contribution was far from that. The Rajasthan Royals man made a hundred and some important half-centuries as well.
A great player for sure - and traditionally teams do usually make their best batsmen skipper - but for the 24-year-old the lack of captaincy experience would count against him. Arguably there are better players in the India side as well.
The 24-year-old Pujara had a difficult tour of England - but this man is undoubtedly a very talented number three. With hundreds and double-hundreds to his name already, he hasn't been labelled the next Rahul Dravid for no reason.
As with Rahane, we feel that although a great player, lack of experience as a captain and that there are other players ahead of him would ultimately count against him.
The 26-year-old was a surprise choice as captain for his IPL side the Mumbai Indians but nevertheless Sharma blossomed in the role and helped the Indians finally fulfil their potential and eventually win the tournament in 2013.
The Mumbai Indians captain has blossomed in his relatively short Test career so far by scoring three hundreds in his first three matches - joining a select few of doing this in the process - but Rohit Sharma’s Achilles heel is that he loses concentration at key moments. The recent Test series against England showed this deficiency.
To be a good captain you need good temperament. Dhoni showed that on several occasions this summer. Sharma needs to learn how to be more patient at the crease if he is to go to the very top, he does undoubtedly have the talent to do so.
It’s hard to believe this man is still only 25, but Virat Kohli at such a young age has been seen as one of the key batsmen in the team.
The Delhi-born man initially broke in to the side as a very fiery 22-year-old and despite that temper it was clear for commentators, cricket experts and coaches alike that this man will one day lead his country.
Kohli has learnt to curb his notorious bad temper and being captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore will have helped him in his development. He has scored more hundreds than Tendulkar at this stage of his career but it is a little early to compare him to ‘The Little Master’ at this stage of the 25-year-old’s career.
Having played with Tendulkar, Kohli can only benefit and with the team looking like it’s being built around the RCB captain, we feel that when Dhoni does step aside, in Kohli you have the ‘ready made replacement’.
What do you think? Is it time for MS Dhoni to step aside as captain. And if so, who would you replace him with?
© Cricket World 2014