Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s exit as Team India’s limited overs captain was considered just a matter of time. With Virat Kohli excelling as Test captain, the pressure had been mounting on selectors to put the Delhi player in charge across all formats.
The selectors are expected to make Virat Kohli India’s limited-overs captain when they meet on Friday to pick teams for the one-day and Twenty20 matches against England. Since taking charge in 2007, Mahendra Singh Dhoni captained India in 199 one-dayers, winning 110 and losing 74.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni also skippered India in 72 Twenty20 Internationals, with 41 wins and 28 losses. Dhoni not only holds the record for most matches as captain of an international side, with 331 games across all formats, but he is also the only captain to have won all three ICC trophies -- ODI World Cup, World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy.
Five possible reasons why Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave up the limited overs captaincy:
1. Dhoni’s recent form:
In his prime, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a match-winner every time he went out to bat. With that swashbuckling technique and hammering skills, it had become fashionable as well. However, in the recent past, he often failed to finish a game. In the first T20I against West Indies in Lauderhill on August 27, 2016, India needed two to win off the last ball when Dhoni lost his wicket. It was also the only time in 23 innings that he posted a score of over 30. Even in Delhi against New Zealand, the stalwart pushed himself up the order but could score only 35 off 69 balls while India fell short by 6 runs.
2. The contrast in success:
While Virat Kohli’s men have been on a rampage in the longest format of the game in the recent past, Dhoni’s men-in-blue haven’t been able to even come close to that success rate. The team managed to win only 7 out of the 13 ODIs in 2016, including a humiliating defeat against Australia (1-4). In contrast, Kohli has now led India to five consecutive Test series victories to reclaim the No. 1 spot besides helping the team extend its unbeaten run to a record 18 Test matches.
3. Virat Kohli’s meteoric rise to the top:
As captain, Virat Kohli has transformed the outlook of the Test team. He took over captaincy just two years ago but the success rate that he has enjoyed has been terrific. He led the team to series wins over West Indies, New Zealand and England and is in the form of his life. In Tests, he scored 1215 runs at a staggering average of 75.93 last year and relished the challenge of leading a side while emerging as a match winner across three formats of the game. Former stars Sourav Ganguly and Sunil Gavaskar backed Kohli to take over as captain in all formats.
4. The new captain needs time:
Given Dhoni is 35 and might not make himself available for selection in the next World Cup in 2019, this was the right time for a new player to take up the role. Virat Kohli, who is the front-runner for the job, might just have three ODIs before leading the team to the ICC Champions Trophy in England, but will be able to channelize his art of captaincy in the shorter formats for others in the dressing room. Given that the team is well acquainted with Virat Kohli’s style, it should just help him settle down in his new role. Kohli was named ICC ODI captain of the year in December last year.
5. The complex equations in Indian cricket:
The BCCI is under tremendous scrutiny and with the Lodha panel recommendations being implemented; a number of present office-bearers are set to lose their grasp in the administration. When Dhoni had stepped down as the Test captain and retired from the longest format of the game in the process, Ravi Shastri had been roped in as the team’s director and the decision hadn’t gone down well with Dhoni, who was happy with Duncan Fletcher. The combination between the selectors and the captain might not have been what it was and Dhoni felt it was best to enjoy the game rather than being involved in the nitty-gritty of the team.