When he was named Captain of the T20 World Cup squad in 2007, Mahendra Singh Dhoni drew unfounded speculation from many quarters.
His unorthodox batting style or possibly his super cool attitude was the reason for this unfair early misjudgement.
By winning the Cup, he proved everyone wrong and boldly told off Ravi Shastri for doubting him at the post match presentation on live TV.
Since then, Dhoni has moved on to become a sports phenomenon in India, second only to the little master Sachin Tendulkar.
Dhoni’s promotion as Test Captain came at the retirement of short-term Captain Anil Kumble, following an injury midway through the fourth Test against Australia in 2008.
By December 2009, he was guiding India to be the No. 1 Test Nation.
Dhoni credited his predecessors Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly, who laid the foundation for the well groomed team he inherited.
Dhoni held an impressive record for longest unbeaten run of 11 tests from his debut with 8 wins and 3 draws. However, the Test arena can be challenging, especially if a Captain has a lacklustre bowling unit (incapable of taking 20 wickets).
Dhoni’s boys not only lost their top Test ranking, but have also managed to win just 1 of their last 12 matches over a space of two years (as of the Boxing Day 2014 Test).
Of late Captain Cool Dhoni had been at the receiving end of criticism for lack of innovation in field placements, particularly during the two tests that he played in the current tour of Australia.
It appears that his Test Captaincy was under scrutiny, given Virat Kohli’s readiness to take on the mantle of responsibility.
Losing Captaincy would have made his presence in the Test team questionable altogether against a backdrop of talented first class cricketers waiting. Ganguly experienced an unceremonious exit from the game having to fight for a place in the playing eleven after he was removed from Captaincy.
Dhoni put to an end to all speculation. He bowed out in his own style without fan-fair or media conferences, with a mere ‘super cool’ call to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Unlike many people, I was not surprised, since he had categorically stated early last year that he had to give up one form of the game to defend the World Cup in 2015.
It had to be Test Cricket.
Dhoni’s success in captaincy has been exceptional, winning everything offered, overseas tours, IPL editions, Champions Trophy, T20 World Cup and the 50-Over World Cup, as well as attaining Number 1 ranking in Test cricket.
Under his captaincy, Team India truly became an exceptional sporting outfit, continuing from the change initiated by Ganguly, who had mustered greater fan support by transforming a generally lethargic and submissive team of the 1990s to an aggressive squad that was hungry for international success.
The last two years in Test Matches should not overshadow the high quality of Dhoni’s Captaincy. Tendulkar considers him the best Captain he has played under, while Ganguly singles him out as the all-time greatest Indian captain.
The good news for now is that Dhoni is free to concentrate on India’s campaign at retaining the Limited Overs Cup.
I believe that there is no person other than Dhoni, who is better placed to lead the ODI side from February 14, 2015.
Ravi is a Project Management professional evincing keen interest in Cricket and has been an umpire for Auckland Cricket. He lives in Auckland.
Readers may send their comments to firstname.lastname@example.org