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A maverick to the last, Indian captain M.S. Dhoni suddenly announced his retirement from Test cricket after the third Test ended in a draw at the MCG on Tuesday. Dhoni flagged no such intention at the formal post-match media conference, instead pulling stumps on Twitter half an hour later.
Virat Kohli, who captained India in the first Test of the series in Adelaide earlier this month, will resume the post in the fourth Test in Sydney next week.
Dhoni, 33, skippered India in 60 of his 90 Test matches. Under him, India ascended to No 1 in the world two years ago. He also led India to victory in the 2011 World Cup on home soil.
For these feats, his legendhood is assured in India, also his fortune; reputedly, he is the world’s richest cricketer. The blemish on his record is a familiar one for Indian captains: his teams have been titans at home, terrible away.
Personally, Dhoni made 4876 Test runs at 38, including six centuries, took 256 catches and made 38 stumpings. In his last innings, he remained 24 not out, shepherding India to a draw. He was acclaimed as firmly in control of an Indian team full of big names and personalities.
But Dhoni is as much known for his exploits in 50- and 20-over cricket, including as a pioneer of the Indian Premier League. He will continue to play in these formats, and is expected to lead in India in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand early next year.
Evidently, Indian authorities were as much taken by surprise as everyone else.
“One of India’s greatest Test captains, under whose leadership India became the No. 1 team in the Test rankings, MS Dhoni, has decided to retire from Test cricket, citing the strain of playing all formats of cricket,” read a hasty release from BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel.
“MS Dhoni has chosen to retire from Test cricket with immediate effect in order to concentrate on ODI and T 20 formats. BCCI, while respecting the decision of MS Dhoni to retire from Test cricket, wishes to thank him for his enormous contribution to Test cricket and the laurels that he has brought to India.”
Dhoni was to the last a mysterious figure. He arrived late for this tour, nursing a hamstring strain and amid speculation that he was preserving himself for the World Cup. He missed the first Test, but played the last two. His keeping has been as solid as ever, but he was a lesser batsman. Nonetheless, India is bound to miss him.
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