Winds of change are sweeping Indian cricket, both off and on the field. After the storm that blew away the top brass of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) after the Supreme Court’s decision, MS Dhoni shocked the cricket world by announcing his resignation as captain of the Indian limited-overs teams. While the Apex Court’s decision was on expected lines, Dhoni’s decision to quit the India hot seat has taken everyone by surprise.
While he was no more at the peak of his powers, he leaves the reins as the country’s most successful captain, winning a rare triple -- leading the team to titles at 2007 World T20 in South Africa, the 2011 World Cup in India, and the 2013 Champions Trophy in England. Dhoni is also the only captain to have led India to ODI and T20I series wins in Australia, and an ODI series win in New Zealand. With a staggering average of 53 as skipper, he will be remembered as one of India’s best limited overs captains. Perhaps the best.
Dhoni’s departure as captain now leaves Virat Kohli as the undisputed monarch of Indian cricket. This change in leadership happens at an interesting phase of Indian cricket. After the SC ruling, large-scale changes are expected in the way the game is run in the country with former cricketers likely to have a larger say in the administration.
While India was a dominant force in the sport since the turn of the millennium because of its economic muscle, the evolution of this team into world beaters has taken some doing. It started with Ajit Wadekar instilling ambition into its core, while Kapil Dev and his men broke the glass ceiling with the 1983 World Cup triumph. With the emergence of the phenomenon called Sachin Tendulkar, the country fell head over heels in love with the game in 1990s, which also saw new stars born in Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly -- who, later as captain, took the team to new heights with his aggressive approach.
Dhoni took over the reins of a young team in 2007 after India had suffered the embarrassment of going out of the ODI World Cup after the group stage in the West Indies. The small town boy from Ranchi brought a fresh, albeit unorthodox, approach while leading the youngsters and led them to the T20 title. A man driven by his instincts, Dhoni led from the front and made warriors of his men. The two World Cups that define his career and influence on Indian cricket serve as great reminders of Dhoni’s unflinching reliance on his instinct. His decision to play on means there’s more to add to the Dhoni legacy.