In cricket, the role of the captain is of immense importance. A good captain is one who can use his bowlers smartly, set fields appropriately and is able to deal with various conditions and situations.
For the past 10 years or so, it has been a trend to have different captains for ODIs and Tests. There have been very few captains who led equally well in all formats of the game. Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was one of them.
Dhoni is the most successful Indian captain as under his leadership India won the first World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007, a triangular series in Australia for the first time in 2007-08.
He won the Compaq Cup in 2009, Asia Cup in Dambulla in 2010, the 50-overs World Cup in India in 2011 and Champions Trophy in 2013. Apart from these triumphs for his country, he also won IPL and Champions League for Chennai Super Kings.
India also remained the No 1 team in Test cricket between December 2009 and August 2011 under his captaincy.
Dhoni is regarded as ‘Captain Cool’ as he never loses hope and does not surrender till the last moment. He has showed his maturity and self-confidence in high-pressure situation many a time. The World Twenty20 semi-final against Australia and the final against Pakistan are just two examples. He depended more on the young players than the veterans and the young guns lived up to his and the country’s expectations.
In the World Twenty20, nine of the 15 players were 25 or under, two were 26 and the oldest was 29.
But after the third Test at Melbourne last week Dhoni suddenly announced his immediate retirement from Test cricket — he didn’t even wait for the end of the series.
He says he wants to concentrate on shorter versions of the game and will continue to lead in One-day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals.
In recent months Dhoni suffered from fitness issues, missing five ODIs against Sri Lanka in November because of a hand injury, which also sidelined him from the early part of the Test series against Australia.
Dhoni led India in 60 Test matches, the highest for any Indian captain, but of the 30 Tests played abroad he won only six. India lost 15 overseas Tests under Dhoni.
Dhoni was under criticism when India were routed 4-0 in England in 2011, and he was also the captain for the tour of Australia when India were whitewashed in a four-match series in 2011-12.
Criticism became harsher when India were beaten 2-1 by England last year, their first series loss to the Englishmen on home soil since 1984-85.
Defeat against arch-rivals Pakistan in the home ODI series created more problems for the skipper and some people started weighing the option of making young Virat Kohli the leader.
The BCCI surprisingly selected the 26-year-old wicket-keeper batsman as captain in 2007 after Rahul Dravid stepped down after the England tour, saying he wanted to concentrate on his batting.
Leading the Indian cricket team, especially against arch-rivals Pakistan, is never easy for any captain. Therefore, veteran spinner Anil Kumble was given the task to lead the Test side while Dhoni was made responsible for One-day Internationals.
Dhoni made his Test debut against Sri Lanka at Chennai in December 2005. In his 90 Test appearances, he scored 4875 runs, hitting six hundreds and 33 fifties at an average of 38.09.
As wicketkeeper, he effected 294 dismissals, the fifth highest in Tests.