M S Dhoni still the best bet as Test, ODI captain says Harsha Bhogle
It was 120-4 when Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked out to bat at Kochi and ordinarily, Indian supporters should have been tense, the finger nails should have been chewed deeper and India's recent one-day record should have been in danger of being pummelled further. But the man on his way out seemed to bring a sense of calm with him. He was in good form of course, possibly the only one in any form at all, but there was an inevitability about his performance. Dhoni calms nerves in one-day cricket and there is little doubt that in the post Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar era he is India's best limited overs batsman.
It is just as true though that at 190-5 in a Test match he doesn't quite give you the feeling that all is well. His batting numbers in Tests are not bad, in the pre-Gilchrist era they would have been considered excellent, but he doesn't seem to control the game in quite the same way. And while Dhoni the Test player is good (avg 38), Dhoni the one-day cricketer is a giant. You would worry, for example, if India had to bat him at number 6 in a test match, you wouldn't at all if he were a permanent number 5 in the one-day game. Indeed, that is where I am convinced he should bat because it provides the right balance between playing as many balls as possible and ensuring he is in when the last few overs are being bowled.
Having said that, at 6, he evokes feelings similar to those Australian supporters would have had with Michael Bevan and it is an interesting exercise to compare numbers and indeed, to realise how similar they are. Bevan has 6912 runs from 232 games @ 53.58, Dhoni 7215 from 216 @ 52.28. It could be argued that they are beneficiaries of many not outs that invariably come about at number 6 though batsmen would be just as entitled to argue that they are not guaranteed as many deliveries as a number 3 for example. But if you did take away the not outs and do a straight runs/innings ratio Bevan gets 35.26 to Dhoni's 37.38.