Mahendra Singh Dhoni, retirement from Test Cricket – it is too early.
Before 9 years, a youngster from a small town in Jharkhand, well built body and grown hairs started catching eyes of cricket fans in India. With fast and furious innings like 148 vs Pakistan and 183*(his career best) vs Sri Lanka in one day cricket started cementing place in Indian team as a wicket keeper batsman for whom India was in desperate need of. Slowly stretching his career in all the formats of the game he came out as a captain cool with most of the decisions wrapped under calm posture. Now, unexpected retirement from white jersey. How to understand this?
It was a 2007 ODI world cup, heart breaking events for a true Indian follower as team with immense potential couldn't make in super eights. Hereafter the real journey of the cricketer was started. He got an opportunity to lead a young team for the first ever T20 world cup 2008. With some brave decisions he could hold the things together and win the world cup. Ignoring a bit part of luck, it was a great effort. Then he started carrying over the leadership of one day team. When Anil Kumble hanged his boots, captaincy of test team was also handed over to him. It looks like a fictional story but he could achieve so.
As a test leader in initial half of his career he was lucky to lead the giants like Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and also Harbhajan, Zaheer in top form. Winning most of the home series he was able to win some overseas series for which India was less known. But in later half with near exit of the great ones and relatively younger side team suffered blows of whitewashes in England and Australia. A home series loss against England too. His defensive tactics came under scrutiny.
Through out the career, Dhoni (and most of the other Indian captains too) lacked the fierce bowling attack which could snatch 20 wickets of opposition. Hence the blame of failure of team can't be put on an individual. On the other hand India was doing so well in other formats that followers could not digest the failure in the tests. India also lost hard earned 1st rank in the tests in between. Dhoni was also nowhere near in tests of his own landmark as best finishers in ODIs. He struggled batting on fast bowling tracks & with the new ball. His unorthodox techniques were getting shacked in tough situations, still he managed to gather around 5000 runs and considerable no. of dismisses behind the stumps. His hardworking tendency, adaptability, ability to read the situation well stood behind him as mentioned by "The Wall" in interview.
Understanding his retirement has many angles. First, young Virat Kohali in his top form capable of handling the situation with himself getting bit older. It will give Virat enough time to understand the things and get them going. Second, ideally one should be a good batsman first then wicketkeeper and at last captain, which seems a bit reversed in case of Dhoni. Thirdly handling pressure of all the formats with standing by to the expectations of the people is cumbersome task. Now onwards he can concentrate on the other formats especially upcoming ODI World cup where we will be the defending champions. This might led him to think that never but now. There might be some other factors too like internal conflicts but they are less likely. If they exist also carry less importance. Finally it's a personal call and have to be respected. He is not the one who takes decision haphazardly. Goodwill of Indian cricket can be observed behind the decision.
It is said that T20 is like a sweet dish, ODI is like a breakfast and test match as a full-fledged meal. In the speedy world where all are getting attracted to the thrill of T20s, it is not certainly less exciting to watch the real war between excellence of bat and red ball. India will surely miss the great man but history is not of the great men but the great time and Dhoni has already written a great chapter in the book of India's cricketing history.
Shivraj Shahaji Dongare
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