When Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team of young men won the inaugural ICC World T20 in 2007, everyone sat up and took notice of the long-haired, big-hitting man from Ranchi. But not in their wildest imaginations did anyone picture that young man as captain of the Indian Test team. Dhoni started off his international career with the reputation of being unorthodox and powerful with the bat and unconventional with the keeping gloves. He seemed like a player who could score 20 off the last over but didn’t give the impression that he could save the last two sessions of a Test.
But when Anil Kumble hung up his boots in 2008, along with T20Is and ODIs, Dhoni was given the Indian Test captaincy too. And Dhoni made an impact straight away, beating South Africa, Australia, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The Indian team became the numero uno in Tests in 2009. Dhoni was in the fan’s minds, in the media’s words and became the centre of the opposition’s plans when they played India. The young man from Ranchi had the world at his feet. But, every story has a twist and this wasn’t going to be a fairytale either. Dhoni led India to whitewash series losses in England and Australia, and faced losses in South Africa as well. His own batting was suffering and his captaincy was being questioned. Dhoni had once again captured a nation, but this time, it was to question his place as the captain of the Indian Test team.
On 30th December 2014, he walked off unbeaten on 24 runs, sealing a draw for India at the MCG and later announced his retirement from Tests via a press release. Dhoni had played the whole test match, interacted with the media after the game and never gave the impression that it was his last Test for India. A billion hearts were broken and thousands of fans vowed never to watch test matches every again. For a cricket obsessed nation, Dhoni was the only cricketer to have a similar impact, as the great Sachin Tendulkar. Dhoni’s test career saw a lot of great moments. Lifting the ICC Test Mace as the skipper of the world’s number one Test team, the double hundred against Australia and the famous win at Lord’s in 2014.
But Dhoni’s impact on the Indian Test team went beyond his performances with the bat or behind the stumps. He taught a young Indian side how to stay calm and keep believing in themselves in every situation. He believed in Ashwin, Rohit Sharma and Jadeja despite them not having the best times in the initial part of their careers and they are now match winners for India. Dhoni’s contribution to Indian Test cricket can never be forgotten.