Dhoni logbook

Victim No. 199…Mahendra Singh Dhoni stumps Kraigg Brathwaite of the West Indies in the first Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla in November 2011. The dismissal moved the wicketkeeper closer to the 200-mark, an Indian record.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

The beginning

December 2, 2005: M. S. Dhoni gets the India Test cap, but he still has to wait as a rain-marred game against Sri Lanka commences on the fourth day (December 5). India takes the first strike and Dhoni chips in with a 30. Later, he pouches Avishka Gunawardene, the first of his 256 catches, the highest by an Indian wicketkeeper.

That first hundred!

January 23, 2006: In Faisalabad, as India gasps at 281 for five while trailing Pakistan’s 588, Dhoni unleashes a barrage of shots. His maiden Test century (148, 153b, 19x4, 4x6) helps Rahul Dravid’s men post 603. The match is drawn.

A leader in whites

April 11, 2008: Due to regular skipper Anil Kumble’s absence, Dhoni steps in as the captain and tastes instant success, as India defeats South Africa inside three days in Kanpur, and a legacy begins to take shape.

Firmly in the saddle

November 6, 2008: Test captaincy is now a full-time honour for Dhoni after Kumble’s retirement and his cup of joy brims as India defeats Australia by 172 runs in Nagpur and seizes the series 2-0.

Number One!

December 6, 2009: India defeats Sri Lanka in Mumbai and secures the No. 1 ranking in Tests. Amidst the team’s delight, Dhoni finds individual joy too, as he scores an unbeaten 100.

An aura, abroad

January 6, 2011: ‘Tigers at home, kittens outside’ — a reference to Indian teams of the past may have faded during the eras of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, but Dhoni does his bit too, as he leads India to a 1-1 draw in South Africa. The series concludes in Cape Town.

The freefall

August 22, 2011: The fine start in South Africa, the World Cup triumph in Mumbai and all those feel-good memories soon wilt, as India loses 0-4 in England. The final nail is an innings and eight runs defeat in the fourth and final Test at The Oval. India’s reign as the No. 1 Test squad is over.

Remember, he is a wicketkeeper too?

November 6, 2011: In a career as blistering as Dhoni’s, at times it is easy to pigeon-hole him as skipper and aggressive batsman, but he has also donned the wicketkeeping gloves with aplomb. And on a nippy November day, he goes past the legendary Syed Kirmani (198 dismissals, including 160 catches and 38 stumpings). At Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla, in the first Test against the West Indies, Dhoni stumps Kraigg Brathwaite to move to 199. He then catches Marlon Samuels and becomes the first Indian wicketkeeper to effect 200 dismissals (174 catches and 26 stumpings).

Back to defeats and despair

January 2012: Another 4-0 whitewash and this time it is against Australia. The series concludes Down Under in January and Dhoni the skipper is under scrutiny. Not the ideal way to start a New Year!

It gets worse

December 17, 2012: Even the home fires turn cold for Dhoni and his men, as England win a four-Test series 2-1. The final Test concludes in a draw in Nagpur, but that offers no consolation. India is beaten at home and to rub it in, the England spinners bowled better than their counterparts!

Oh captain, my captain!

February-March 2013: The roller-coaster ride is back and Dhoni’s breathtaking double century (224) in the first Test in Chennai, against Australia in February, sets the tone for a series that India eventually wins comprehensively 4-0. In the course of the series, he also becomes India’s most successful captain with 22 victories, going past Ganguly’s milestone of 21.

The twilight months overseas

December 2013-December 2014: India loses 1-0 to South Africa in December 2013. Jump to February 2014 and the tale is no different, as India loses the series in New Zealand. The ‘poor traveller’ tag sticks to India. In England, despite securing a victory at Lord’s on July 21, 2014, and going 1-0 up, India loses the series 3-1. The tale is no different in Australia, as India, 2-0 down in the four-Test series, loses the rubber after the third Test concludes in a draw in Melbourne on December 30, 2014. After the Test, Dhoni announces his retirement through a press release! A riveting career is over and it is time to watch him in the ODIs and T20s.

K. C. Vijaya Kumar