Although Mahendra Singh Dhoni was able to lead India to only six wins in 30 overseas Tests, the Test captaincy was not exactly a poisoned chalice for him to shun it.
The knives of his critics got sharper with every defeat but he enjoyed the support of his Board and the present panel of selectors.
Hence, his decision to quit the Test captaincy in the midst of an important series albeit a lost one is shocking.
Captains like to be acknowledged and remembered for their ability to challenge their teammates to stretch boundaries and achieve the improbable. It’s something cricket lovers in this country expected of Dhoni for the fourth and final Test at Sydney. In the event of a solace Test victory, Dhoni and his team would not have been short of applause. And in case Australia rolled over India for the third time in the series, Dhoni would go down with his team.
For all the great things that Dhoni has done for Indian cricket ever since he made his debut 10 years ago and his contribution is exemplary the quitting of the Test captaincy appears very unDhoni-like.
Dhoni has chosen to go on his terms and he would be content with his decision because no player wants to feel the might of the selectorial axe. But is this the best for the team? It can’t be.
One of cricket’s most popular truism is, ‘no game is over till the last ball is bowled’. Indeed, the last ball of this season’s Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be bowled in Sydney. Dhoni was good enough to lead in whites for one last time there no matter what the result of the Test, but he chose to quit after a draw and a ‘not out’ asterisk to his score of 24 at Melbourne.
His critics felt that he didn’t enjoy Test match cricket as much as one-day cricket and Dhoni’s latest move lends more truth to this belief.
This is no way warriors say goodbye.