Has captain cool Dhoni lost his Midas touch?: Dhoni holds numerous captaincy records such as most wins by an Indian captain in Tests and ODIs, and most back-to-back wins by an Indian captain in ODIs. He took over the ODI captaincy from Rahul Dravid in 2007 and led the team to its first-ever bilateral ODI series wins in Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
He is billed as an ‘instinctive’ captain, unorthodox and takes decisions that surprise many ‘in the business’. Otherwise how do we explain in him making Joginder Sharma bowl the 20th over in the Final game against Pakistan in the inaugural ICC T20I World Cup and go on to win the title?
Dhoni began his captaincy stint with a win while he ‘stood-in’ for Anil Kumble in the third and final Test against South Africa at Green Park, Kanpur, in April, 2008, and went on to win the contest by 8 wickets helping India draw the series 1-1 after the first Test in Chennai was drawn and Proteas won the second one at Ahmedabad.
The second Test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008-09, at Mohali, saw Dhoni stand-in as captain of Team India for the injured Anil Kumble. He was successful in inflicting a defeat on the Ricky Ponting-led Australia by 320 runs. With a knock of 92 runs in the first innings and an unbeaten 68 runs in the second, he was also awarded the Player of the Match.
With Kumble ‘calling it quits’ at the end of the drawn third Test in Delhi, Dhoni again took over the mantle of captaincy for the fourth and final Test at Nagpur and led the team to a 172-run victory, thus winning the series 2-0.
It was under his captaincy that India climbed to No. 1 in the ICC Test Rankings in December 2009. After that he managed to lead India in a series-leveling world championship of Tests against the South Africans in February 2010. India also managed to draw the Test series 1–1 in South Africa later that year.
Dhoni also successfully led India to win the ICC World Cup 2011 staged by India, (Pakistan) and Sri Lanka. The Cup was won after 28 years, since Kapil’s Devils’ won it way back in 1983.
Only nine players have captained ten or more Tests playing as a wicket-keeper.
Dhoni’s slide began with the 2013-14 Indian tour to South Africa in December, 2013, losing the 3-match ODI series 0-2 and the 2-match Test series, 0-1.
This was followed by a 0-4 defeat by New Zealand in the 5-match ODI series and a 0-1 defeat in the 2-match Test series.
The Pataudi Trophy 2014 against England, was again a disaster when India lost 1-3 in the 5-match Test series with the first one being drawn. However, he could lead the team to a 3-1 victory in the 5-match ODI series that followed the Tests but against lost the lone T20I match.
The Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2014-15 was the next disaster to follow with India losing 2-0 in the 4-match series.
Dhoni retired from Tests at the end of the third Test match at Melbourne. Team India also lost the tri-nation series with England as the third team and also failed to defend the ICC World Cup title in 2015.
He then unsuccessfully led the team to a 1-2 defeat in the 3-match ODI series against Bangladesh in June 2015, which followed the World Cup.
The 3-match T20Is and 5-match ODIs home series against South Africa was another disaster for Dhoni. He lost the T20I series 0-2 and the ODI series 2-3.
Calamity seems to be following the ODI skipper on his tour to Australia also.
Currently playing in the 5-match ODI and 3-match T20I series, Down Under, India is already trailing 0-2, losing both the encounters at WACA and Gabba.
Looking at these string of failures, is it time ripe for Dhoni to ‘call it quits’ from all forms of international cricket or should he hold on till the completion of the ICC T20I World Cup scheduled to be held in India, is a question that only Dhoni can answer.
With Virat Kohli showing signs of success by leading India to a 2-1 victory in the 3-test series against Sri Lanka and the kind of respect he seems to command in the dressing room, maybe the time is appropriate for the baton to change.
What exactly is happening to Dhoni? Why is he not able to rely / convert his instincts into success? Has he really lost the ‘Midas Touch’? These are some of the points which merit consideration.