Of late Indian captain Dhoni has emerged as a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type of character. For some things you can only marvel at his inventive style while for others you can only bang your head for all the monstrosities he commits.
If you argued that he was the world’s greatest captain ever in the shorter formats of the game, then you would find quite a few takers. Nobody else boasts of two world cups, an ICC Champions Trophy, two IPLs and one Champions League title.
He also has the best win-loss ratio among Indian ODI captains.
He has quietly emerged as India’s greatest wicket keeper.He has more than 250 dismissals in Tests and 300 in ODIs. He’s just 32 and could reach striking distance of the other wicket-keeping greats.
After 10 years if you predicted that the top three ODI run getters could be Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, then that’s one thing that has a good chance of happening. He also spent a long time as ICC No. 1 ODI batsman in the rankings some years ago.
In Tests at home as a captain he has an unbelievable 21-3 win-loss ratio that includes India’s only ever 4-0 whitewash in India’s history. Captaining Tests at home, Dhoni averages a superlative 52 showing us he’s probably India’s best ever No. 5 batsman.
But more than the records, he’s the crisis man of Indian cricket. He took us out of the depths of the ODI World Cup debacle with a T20 WC win in 2007. He played a brilliant knock to get us the title in the final of the 2011 ODI WC.
His double century set the pace for the 4-0 whitewash with Australia. And he has a knack for choosing the right bowler in crunch matches who deliver despite the misgivings of everyone.
The advertisers recognized this and he surpassed Tendulkar as the richest cricketer while the latter was at his peak.
He is a champion at absorbing pressure and one can’t think of anyone else in a similar all-rounder role: Captain cum wicket-keeper cum attacking batsman all rolled into one.
However there is the other side of the coin too.
For one is his overseas Tests performance. He captained seven Tests in the overseas 0-8 debacle. He looked indifferent and lacklustre during those two series. In the recent series in South Africa, there were many times when we could have won a Test, but all those chances went down the drain.
Dhoni as ODI captain won the triangular series in Australia and the ICC Champions Trophy in England, but leaving that we have been losing ODI series with great regularity. Since 2010, we have lost bilateral ODI series in Sri Lanka, South Africa, England and Australia.
Now being blanked by a weak team like New Zealand is absolutely in the pits. We were totally walloped by them and looked totally clueless most of the times.
His personal form in Tests has plummeted too. After his double century with Australia about a year ago, he averages just 26. In fact he was never a great Test batsman, but at least a fighter on foreign pitches, but that fight seems to have gone too.
He is also an extremely stubborn captain and leaves fans confused at times. It gets brushed under the carpet when we are winning but not otherwise. It is perplexing how Suresh Raina and Ishant Sharma have been persisted for so long.
Off late his field placements and bowling changes look stale and India looks like it requires a new captain and coach.
The problem is that after the Sourav Ganguly-Rahul Dravid-Anil Kumble era, the next generation of captains were: Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir. Dhoni became totally indispensable since all three didn’t last.
However now we have 25-year-old Virat Kohli who has more than 7500 international runs (in all three formats of the game) and more importantly has started belting runs outside the sub-continent.
The upcoming England tour presents a make or break situation for Dhoni. Another big failure and it will be extremely difficult for the BCCI to persist with Dhoni as captain and Duncan Fletcher as coach.