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Mahendra Singh Dhoni, retirement from Test Cricket – it is too early.

When India drew the 3rd Test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Melbourne, Australia in the just concluded Test Series it was curtains for the most successful Test Captain of India Mahendra Singh Dhoni as far as playing Test Matches for India is concerned. Moreover India lost the Test Series 2-0 against Australia as India was able to draw the last 2 Tests Matches. In this way, the recently concluded Australia – India Test Series marked the end of Dhoni's tenure both as a Test player as well as Test Captain of India, at the age of 33 years, an age at which many players in the world of Test Cricket are at the peak of their Test Career. In this light we may introspect Mahendra Singh Dhoni's retirement from Test Cricket and analyse whether it is too early.

The present arena of the game of cricket in all its three formats i.e., Tests, One-dayers and T-20's are based on the fact of 'Perform or Perish'. One's position in the playing 11 is certain in all the three formats, as mentioned above based only on an individual cricketer's performance. So long a player is performing in the game of cricket, so long is his place certain in the playing 11. The same yardstick applies to Mahendra Singh Dhoni especially in Test Cricket. In the recent past, actually after 2011 the performance of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in all the three formats of the game is under scanner as his performance both as a captain and player has dipped since Mahendra Singh Dhoni has failed both as a Test-Captain and player by dint of his performance so, his exit was inevitable from specially Test Cricket and Mahendra Singh Dhoni also has become a victim of the 'perform or perish' syndrome of the game of cricket at somewhat an early age of 33 years in Test Cricket.

Looking at the statistical graph of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Test career, we find that since making his Test debut versus Sri Lanka at Chennai in December 2015, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's performance is at the scanner. However both as a batsman, wicket-keeper as well as captain his overall record is somewhat amazing. After Melbourne Test against Australia in the recently concluded, Test Series Mahendra Singh Dhoni created the record of scoring highest run as a captain in Test cricket for India making 3,454 runs surpasssing the great Sunil Gavaskar's 3,449 runs. As India Test Captain Melbourne Cricket Ground also witnessed another world record from Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he effected his 134th dismissal as a wicket-keeper at the Melbourne Test against Australia. He reached the landmark in his 460th innings while Sangakkara of Sri Lanka has 133 stumping from 485 innings. Moreover Mahendra Singh Dhoni earned the distinction of being the most successful Test Captain for India. Mahendra Singh Dhoni played 90 Tests in all and 60 as Captain where he has won-27-lost-18 and drawn 15 in all. In spite of all these positives as a player, wicket-keeper batsman he had many negatives too in his cricket. Mahendra Singh Dhoni to his credit has 8 Test Ducks. The 8th Duck came in the 2nd Test in Australia, Brisbane making him the Indian skipper with most ducks surpassing M. Patudi with 7 ducks. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaining abilities is also under doubt, especially overseas, as he had won only 6 Tests, losing 15 and drawing 9 overseas. All in all Mahendra Singh Dhoni can't be separated from other Indian Test Captains as per as poor overseas record is concerned.

Another aspect of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's cricketing career is his stint in IPL as captain of Chennai Indians.IPL has brought money to the game of Cricket but also brought to the fore the 'Club vs. Country' debate in Cricket. This means T-20 bonanza has led to many retirements in cricket as players are unable to survive the stress and strain of too much cricket. I think at first it was Kevin Peterson of England and now it is Mahendra Singh Dhoni of India who has become the victim of this menace. Moreover the match-fixing allegation of the Chennai Indian Team recently has also I think diminished the image of cricket and cricketers and Mahendra Singh Dhoni is also not untouched by it.

In a nutshell, it can be said that the media buzz, dressing room environment, stress and strain of too much cricket vis-à-vis individual performance of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as a batsman, wicket-keeper and captain has a lot to do with his retirement from Test Cricket. Moreover, last but not the least, in a country like India where cricket is treated as a religion and cricketers are pretended to be God, selection of players and the role of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain of Indian Test Cricket in it, and the sense of buzz and drama surrounding it has also a lot to do with Mahendra Singh Dhoni's retirement from Test Cricket.

Jnandeep Bora