Mahendra Singh Dhoni did the right thing by quitting as skipper of India’s ODI and T20 teams in the New Year. The totality of his contribution to Indian cricket is huge even if he, by staying a little longer at the helm like most senior cricketers, blotted his perfect copybook somewhat. He may have timed it better if he handed over captaincy in all formats to Virat Kohli after failing to retain the World Cup in 2015. But nothing prevents us from enjoying the enormity of what he did to transform Team India into a crack force that has been around the top of world cricket for years.
Dhoni’s success, embellished by his rise from India’s hinterland and a first job as a railway ticket collector, encouraged many who similarly burst through from remote towns and became role models for every Indian kid. Never so blasé as to disregard defeats or make lame excuses, Dhoni drove his team to believe their duty was to the national cause.
As captain, he trusted his instincts and shone in many tight situations by making unconventional calls that invariably clicked. Dhoni’s record as the captain who won the most Tests, ODIs and T20s renders any arguments about merit futile. Further, he contributed to many players’ confidence by backing them fully and carried forward the Ganguly legacy of not allowing regional biases to promote players. That he’ll be around as a player for a while longer is a good augury as young skipper Virat Kohli can relish the experience of leading a side with Dhoni in it.