He gave his all

No matter what, M. S. Dhoni took over as captain when others were not keen on the job and for one who hardly had any experience, he handled the side reasonably well. He was his own man and had the courage to stick by his decisions.

M. S. Dhoni is never short of surprises, is he? Just immediately after the conclusion of the Boxing Day Test when his critics were sharpening their claws, he announced his retirement without any fuss. His decision was obviously brought about by the enormous workload his body was subjected to. He was playing all the three formats while donning the role of a captain, wicketkeeper and batsman. It can be tiring when it is done day in and day out for years like MSD did. Instead of seeing the merit in his decision, some in the media decided to hunt for motives in a manner that would have disgusted even Hercule Poirot.

The man gave his all and achieved much more than either his apparent talent suggested or people expected. After the debacle in England last summer, there were open suggestions that Dhoni needed to retire or at least resign as captain due to lack of results abroad. But when the skipper decided to quit after being exhausted physically and mentally, the knives came out. Dhoni had hinted a year ago that he would take a call on his future by the end of 2014 and he kept his word. At a time when someone who has contributed quite significantly to the team had to be lauded, he was chided for abandoning the ship. The ship was by no means afloat even if one were to take that route. I am sure that if Team India had had a chance of either squaring or winning the series, he would have played the final Test at the SCG.

It was strange to read a report that blatantly portrayed Dhoni as arrogant, the reason being that he did not have the courtesy to inform the media himself. The reason for retiring is the player’s prerogative in as much as the manner in which he announces it. Dhoni may be accused of many things but none can point a finger at him for craving for attention. Even when India won the World Cup in 2011, he was hardly the hub amidst the celebration. The issue perhaps is the fact he is consistent in not reaching out to the media.

No matter what, he took over as captain when others were not keen on the job and for one who hardly had any experience, he handled the side reasonably well. He was his own man and had the courage to stick by his decisions. Yes, there might have been occasions when he was too rigid, but in his mind he was convinced as much as he was confident about his methods. The lack of results abroad may be a blot on his CV, but he did not really have the quality of attack that was capable of picking up 20 wickets and win matches on a regular basis. Let’s not forget that even successful captains like Azharuddin and Ganguly did not have a high percentage of success abroad.

In terms of Dhoni’s contribution as a player, he would take the numbers as they are. The remarkable aspect of his Test career was that he improved consistently both as a ’keeper and batsman. Neither natural talent nor technique was his ally but his inherent ability to read a situation and respond accordingly was his forte. I am sure many would give their right arm to acquire that special talent given the numerous occasions that rare ability enabled him to succeed in tight situations. Now that the burden is off his back, he may well enjoy his cricket in the shorter formats to the fullest and therein lies the danger for the opposition bowlers. As regards whether he will retain the World Cup in Australia, only time will tell. In the event Team India ends up retaining the coveted title, there can be no better script for a captain.