Before the growing murmur about his inability to overwhelm odds overseas could reach a crescendo, the man who redefined the idiom of Indian cricket for a most eventful stint has recused himself from the longer version of what is no longer a gentleman’s game. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has retired from Test cricket, shortly after his team barely scraped through unscathed at the MCG. The MSD phase in Indian cricket will necessitate a deeper examination in coming days, but that his distinctive, aggressive and positive spirit will endure would be the wish of every lover of the game in the country.
His transparent weaknesses as a tactician notwithstanding, MSD brought flair and style that was uniquely his to the Indian game. The highpoint of his career was obviously the triumph in the preceding edition of the World Cup and he and his country’s millions will be hoping that he will repeat the feat a month-and-a-half from now.
Quicksilver behind the wickets and combative in front of them, MSD played long enough to erase several Indian records in the genre he specialised in, and ‘Mahi’ during this period became a role model for many an aspirant from small-town India. The metamorphosis scripted by this man from the backyards will endure, as also memories of his unorthodox exploits. The decision to quit the longer format must also have been governed by the fact that the man certain to succeed him is having a dream run with the willow even as the overall performance of the team has been dismal.
MSD has quit before the wise men could decide to time his exit, and that fact should ease the inevitable pangs of subjective regret that he would have had. At his best, Dhoni was inspirational; at his worst, he seemed far too easily reconciled to defeat. MSD has signed off before anyone could tell him that he will have to vacate his throne. The timing is fine even when there was a touch of inevitability about it. Well done and do remain an engaging ambassador of the game, so that you can inspire and fire several others in the backyards to follow your example, MSD!