A gimmick tale of 2 captains
With the battle royale already underway in the arena of Uppal, the two teams are on their marks in an attempt to push their adversaries towards the end of rope. A battle, that has eventually kept the two skippers on the vantage point, has a lot to say on the participating fighters who still kept the series in a tantalizing position after the thumping win for India in the first match.
Over the last two and half decades, Australia just had six test captains: a move that shows that they haven’t showed a gung ho approach on their captaincy elections throughout the labyrinth they roamed; a leverage that has resulted in a bunch of achievements over the lane of history. In the same span of time, India had eleven test captains – it shows the lack of stability in the mindset, as well as, in the approach to which the leading men of cricket in India has operated their teams over the years.
But history of cricket tells us that each team gets a complete changeover with the ticking of clock – an innuendo that pushed Clarke to the unprecedented fact of leading the most vulnerable team since Kim Hughes’ novices of 1979-80. But he has his ingenious way of reacting, “I don’t believe I can get the whole of the country to like me but hopefully I can earn the respect of the doubters by playing cricket the right way.” After the demise of Ponting, Clarke has responded well to the growing needs of characterization and propulsion of his team and has anchored the team to 12 wins in 21 outings with an impressive average of 70.
Along with himself in the forerunner of the Australian side, the raison d’être for his successful test drive is the elegant pace department shinning in the eternal sunshine of the likes of Starc, Pattinson, Cummins. They showed the world once again that there is never a dearth of eligible pacers in the Australian side. Even in the turning tracks of Chennai, Pattinson could garner a 5-wicket haul to salvage some pride within the exploits of Dhoni. But a wafer-thin spinning strength couldn’t score marks in the questions raised by a formidable Indian batting line-up, which led Clarke to include two spinners in the second test: Maxwell and Doherty, a tactical sense that seemed to elude him in the first test. An inexperienced middle-order, after the retirement of Mr. Cricketer, has kept him guessing in conditions alien to the Australian newbies. Situations reacted in an opposite sense when Henriques in the first test and Wade in the second offered something to fight for alongsidehim, but a comparatively better-poised top order crumbled in front of Ashwin and Bhubaneswar Kumar in either tests respectively. A strong urge of aggression in the field beyond his capability has kept him under the eyes of Warne, Chappell and Waugh, but praise of his captaincy also isn’t unheard of.
A completely different scenario has been waiting for the Indian skipper in the series. The urban legend surrounding him and his exploits since the T20 cup of 2007 to the heroics of 2011 world cup that included a numero uno status in test cricket has started to disintegrate long ago, leaving him to the predicament cage of critics and senior players. A not-so-eventful average of 28.38 against the Aussies and back-to-back series whitewashes in foreign soils has dumped him dramatically to a new low in the eyes of his teammates, fans, media and senior cricketers
The selectors’ decision to offer a final chance for Dhoni resulted from the inadequate presence of leading capabilities in the team with the exception of Kohli, who still needs to seal a place for himself and his form in the test cricketing world. Always a good ODI player, decent efforts in the last tie against England in the home Test and then a swashbuckling double ton in the first Test of this series have influentially greeted the skipper in a new way. It seems that somehow he has shown his potential to stay out of controversies for weeks to come by, and his captaincy has lived another day to tell the tale.
Even after a reasonable ODI career, some prolific test innings and some high profile tournament wins someone would still mutter something about Dhoni going off the grid of cricket and demands for his immediate release off the duty of the national team will be continuously heard of.
It’s high time for the two captains. Another inefficient series could see the Indian skipper fall from grace in the eyes of the Indian selectors, while for Michael Clarke the challenge will be to keep his winning sails steady in the snag of a less-than-formidable Australian side. It’s a battle to savour.