Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his bitter-sweet Test career

Jan 01, 2015, 08:34 IST | Ian Chappell

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Test batting was a lot like his captaincy; brilliant at home but brittle on tour. At his best he was innovative and effective but on tour, he could occasionally look fidgety and fragile

Ian ChappellMahendra Singh Dhoni has been absolutely schizophrenic during his Test captaincy career - brilliant at home but lacklustre on the road.

Because his best captaincy at home was so full of thought and tactical aggression it was frustrating to witness his worst efforts; on tour he could be illogical in selection, lacking commonsense in tactics and at times look as though his mind was off on a motor-bike ride somewhere in the open spaces of India.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Dhoni plays the hook shot during the Brisbane Test against Australia at The Gabba on December 18. Pic/Getty Images.

It might also have been that his tremendous workload - wicketkeeper and captain of India in all three forms of the game and his Indian Premier League franchise - just wore him down and it was Test captaincy that captured the least of his attention. Apart from his incredible ability to stay calm, hit long and finish short form games with a flourish, the thing that has stood out in his career has been his durability.

Of all his great work at home as a captain, one memorable performance stands out. His counter-attacking double century in India’s opening victory at Chennai in 2012-13 was a great example of the perfect timing to launch an assault on the opposition and dramatically change the balance of the game. In contrast, his feats in the short form of the game have been memorable and many, with his crowning achievements being a World trophy win in both the 50 and 20-over formats.

He leaves an Indian Test side that is full of talent and promise. However, the team was never going to fulfil its potential under Dhoni’s captaincy, as he’d passed his use-by-date. His selection choices in England were at times unfathomable and his desire to control the bowlers’ tactics detrimental in Australia.

Despite his shortcomings overseas, he’s still by far the most successful Indian captain and he’s given great service as a keeper-batsman. Again, his personal performances have varied greatly; he started out as a scrappy wicketkeeper, advanced to a high degree of competence and then regressed to his status as a fledgling international glove man.
His Test batting was a lot like his captaincy; brilliant at home but brittle on tour. At his best he was innovative and effective but on tour he could occasionally look fidgety and fragile.

It was not surprising that Dhoni’s last minutes as Indian Test captain were spent in an act of defiance. He helped defy his opponents at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to obtain the one result that had eluded him as captain in Tests against Australia, a draw. Such an even-handed result was not typical of a captaincy career that tended to either ascend to the heights or descend to the depths.

294: Test dismissals for Dhoni, the fifth highest among all wicketkeepers, and the best for an Indian by far: the next best is Syed Kirmani's 198 dismissals in 88 matches. — ESPN Cricinfo

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