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A tribute to MS Dhoni: India's greatest wicketkeeper-batsman

A tribute to MS Dhoni.

SENIOR ANALYST
Feature 24 Jan 2015, 20:23 IST
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MS Dhoni’s retirement from Test cricket came totally out of the blue

Swami Vivekananda had once said “Arise, awake, do not stop until the goal has been attained”. For a Test cricket captain, the ultimate goal would be to take his team to the top of the Test ranking. Rest of the add-on goals would take care of themselves once you are at the top. And for Mahendra Singh Dhoni - the Test captain, the goal had already been achieved. He had taken India to the pinnacle of the Test rankings. In due course of time, he had also become the most successful captain in the history of Indian Test cricket.

In spite of all this, prior to the Australian tour, if anyone would have suggested that “Captain Cool” (as his fans call him) would call it a day in the middle of the Test series, he would have been asked to consult a psychiatrist. But if there is one word which describes his captaincy style, it would be “unpredictable” and the manner of his retirement just reaffirmed that. 

Just when you thought he would get the strike bowler on, he would surprise you and get a part-timer to bowl a couple of overs. Similarly, just when you thought he would be itching to get a face-saving victory in the last Test of the series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, he stunned everyone by announcing his retirement from Test cricket.

Dhoni or Ganguly – Who was the greater Test captain?

I am a part of the generation that has grown up watching the antics of a bare-chested captain in Sourav Ganguly at the Lord’s balcony. It was difficult for people like me to digest that someone else was now being labelled as the most successful Indian captain. So although we wanted India to win Test matches, every victory added to our worry that Dhoni would surpass Ganguly’s record, which he eventually did, and every defeat had us saying – “I told you this guy is not as good as Ganguly”. 

Critics said that he was a lucky captain (now I don’t know how successful an unlucky captain can ever become), and his captaincy no longer had the element of surprise which once was his strength. His overseas Test record as captain was one which raised quite a few eyebrows and seemed to give an edge to Ganguly fans. This Ganguly vs Dhoni debate over the best captain can perhaps go on forever, with supporters of each side presenting statistics to prove their case.    

Dhoni’s services will be hugely missed

Now that Dhoni has retired from Test cricket leaving the mantle on the young shoulders of Virat Kohli, I think it’s time to move on. As per the great boxer Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth”, and we can surely say that Dhoni - “the Test captain” - has done enough service to Indian cricket. 

Cricket fans all over the nation just love him. On one hand, every person belonging to the state of Bihar or Jharkhand considers him to be their very own and on the other hand, IPL has ensured that even people from down south sing, “Enga thala dhoniku periya whistle adinga“ (Whistle aloud for our leader Dhoni). I am sure any politician would love to have that sort of diverse popularity.

Even his staunchest critic will accept the fact the Dhoni has secured a special place for himself in the history of Indian Test cricket. He will surely be missed - his calmness in tense situations, his unpredictable moves. But what will be missed more than “Dhoni - the captain" is “Dhoni - the wicketkeeper”. Beyond doubt, he has been the best wicketkeeper-batsman that India has ever produced. His batting skills meant that the team could often go in with an extra bowler, a luxury which India never had in the pre-Dhoni era and only time will tell if his successor will afford the Indian team this same luxury.

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