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Dhoni's captaincy called into question after India's debacle in England tests

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NEW DELHI - Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaincy has come under increasing scrutiny with many former cricketers blaming him for India's 3-1 test series defeat in England.

A debate erupted on Dhoni's future as test captain after India was bowled out for a measly 94 and lost by an innings and 244 runs at the Oval in the final test of a five-game series. The innings lasted only 29.2 overs in what was a second successive loss inside three days for India.

Dhoni, who survived the axe after India suffered 4-0 losses in both England and Australia in 2011, has now lost 14 away tests.

Former India captain and selector Dilip Vengsarkar feels Dhoni had been found wanting time and again.

"Dhoni led the team poorly," Vengsarkar told the Press Trust of India. "His selection policy, strategy, field placing and bowling changes lacked common sense. He made some glaring mistakes match after match for which India paid heavily."

Though there does not seem to be any immediate alternative since Virat Kohli will be struggling to hold on to his place after failing to register a single half-century in 10 innings, former New Zealand player Martin Crowe suggests a change in captaincy.

"If he did back down from test cricket, India wouldn't miss his strange, often weird, tactics," Crowe wrote in a column on the website Cricinfo.com. "His selections are illogical when finding the appropriate balance in picking enough specialist players to out-skill the opposition over long periods.

"His manoeuvrings on the field as 'keeper and strategist are too often at odds with what the game situation demands - Ishant Sharma bowling short at Lord's the exception," he said.

Dhoni put England under pressure in the second test at Lord's, using Sharma, as they secured their only win in the series. However, the India captain has been blamed for not attacking enough at other times. He has also been criticized for backing players like Ravindra Jadeja and Stuart Binny who are more adept in limited overs cricket.

"Dhoni could focus on his defence of the World Cup he brilliantly co-ordinated and won, back in 2011. With his limited-overs triumphs he shows a completely different energy, proactive and attacking; those are formats where he has to use the bits-and-pieces players he likes so much," Crowe added.

Dhoni has the distinction of winning all three ICC tournaments as captain - the World Cup, the Champions Trophy and the World Twenty20 - but he has never been admired for leading in tests, especially abroad.

Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin feels Dhoni is not the kind of thinking captain needed for test cricket.

"I feel India should look beyond Dhoni because he does not look capable of strategizing for five days of a test match," Azharuddin told the Hindi news channel Aaj Tak.

Former India wicketkeeper Surender Khanna feels Dhoni has been given a long rope by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

"Selector Mohinder Amarnath had questioned why Dhoni should not be removed as test captain after seeing his dismal away record a few years ago," Khanna told the Associated Press. "But what instead happened was that Amarnath was shown the door."

Dhoni is considered close to International Cricket Council chairman and BCCI president Narainswamy Srinivasan, who has stepped aside from the BCCI on a Supreme Court order owing to corruption charges in the Indian Premier League, but is considered to still enjoy some clout there.

Dhoni is the captain of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, which is owned by Srinivasan's India Cements company.

India's next test engagement will be in October-November when it hosts the West Indies for three matches.

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