1. India captain M S Dhoni retires from test cricket; BCCI puts Virat Kohli in charge

India captain M S Dhoni retires from test cricket; BCCI puts Virat Kohli in charge

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has retired from test cricket, the India cricket board said on Tuesday.

By: | Melbourne | Updated: December 31, 2014 1:07 PM
M S Dhoni, M S Dhoni retirement, Dhoni retirement

“Mahendra Singh Dhoni has chosen to retire from Test Cricket with immediate effect,” the BCCI said on its Twitter feed. (Reuters)

Cricketing icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni today surprised the sporting world with his sudden announcement of immediate retirement from Test cricket, making way for Virat Kohli to don the mantle of captaincy.

Announcement of M S Dhoni’s retirement after the wicketkeeper-batsman had played in 90 Test matches, 60 of them as captain, was made immediately after India lost the current Test series to Australia following a drawn third Test here.

“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,” the BCCI said in a statement.

“M S Dhoni has chosen to retire from Test Cricket with immediate effect in order to concentrate on ODI and T20 formats. BCCI while respecting the decision of M S 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,” it added.

India, trailing 0-2 in the four-match series after today’s draw, would be led by the 26-year-old Kohli in the fourth and final match in Sydney.

Kohli has been India’s standout performer with the bat in the ongoing series, having scored three hundreds so far.

“Virat Kohli will be the captain of the Indian Team for the Fourth and Final Test against Australia to be played in Sydney from the 6th of January 2015,” the BCCI stated.

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The 33-year-old Dhoni, however, did not speak about his retirement at the post-match press conference or at the presentation ceremony. The announcement was made through a BCCI press release.

The BCCI statement was a bolt from the blue as Dhoni, despite his poor overseas track record as captain, had not given any indication that he would step down in the near future.

Dhoni, who led India to an unprecedented two World Cup titles (2007 Twenty20 World Championships and the 2011 ODI World Cup), had been drawing flak for India’s poor run in overseas Tests. India have won just six away Tests out of the 30 that Dhoni has captained.

“Virat Kohli will be the captain of the Indian Team for the Fourth and Final Test against Australia to be played in Sydney from the 6th of January 2015,” the BCCI stated.

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Among the most embarrassing defeats under M S Dhoni were the 0-4 whitewashes suffered in England (2011) and Australia (2011-12). Besides the team also suffered defeats in South Africa and New Zealand and had been beaten by England yet again this summer.

Yet the wicketkeeper-batsman remains one of the most successful captains ever for India, having led the side to the top of ICC rankings in Tests in 2009.

With the team continuing to perform badly overseas, pressure was mounting on M S Dhoni to quit the job with former players and critics questioning his defensive leadership in the longer format.

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The criticism notwithstanding, M S Dhoni today became the Indian captain to score most runs in Tests, making 3454 runs, going past Sunil Gavaskar (3449), Mohammad Azharuddin (2856) and Sourav Ganguly (2561).

In 60 matches as captain, Dhoni had a decent 27 wins, 18 losses and 15 draws to show. In the 90 Tests that he was part of, Dhoni scored 4876 runs at an average of 38.09 with six hundreds and 33 50s to his credit.

Dhoni did not play the first Test in the current series against Australia because of a thumb injury. In his absence, Kohli led the team and won accolades for his attacking approach.

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Many former players declared that it was time for Kohli to take over the leadership from Dhoni given that the incumbent had been struggling to present any fresh approach.

Dhoni’s rise was nothing short of meteoric and he took over the Test captaincy from Anil Kumble in 2008 in 2013, he became the most successful Indian Test captain when he eclipsed Sourav Ganguly’s record of 21 victories from 49 Tests.

His record in away Tests may be dismal, but Dhoni proved to be quite successful on home turf, leading the side to 21 wins in 30 Tests.

M S Dhoni quits tests after India lose series to Australia
(Reuters) The third test between Australia and India in Melbourne failed to deliver a nail-biting finish on Tuesday but ended with a draw tinged with controversy and the shock retirement of long-serving India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni from test cricket.

The result secured Australia a 2-0 series victory with a match in reserve, but their triumph was quickly overtaken by the bombshell that Dhoni had pulled the pin on his 90-test career to concentrate on the shorter formats of the game.

Displaying his usual serenity, the 33-year-old Dhoni said nothing of his retirement plans and the news was broken on the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s Twitter feed only minutes after the final question was asked at the post-match media conference.

Batsman Virat Kohli, long Dhoni’s heir apparent and stand-in skipper during the first test loss in Adelaide, will lead the team for the fourth and final match in Sydney, the BCCI added, capping a surreal day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Dhoni, fittingly, played an important part in his team’s gritty effort to stave off a third straight test defeat on the fifth and final day.

He came in to bat with the team in trouble at 141-5 and grafted an unbeaten 24 after tea. Along with number seven batsman Ravichandran Ashwin, who scored eight, he helped guide the tourists to safety.

Though Dhoni’s effort was praiseworthy, his counterpart Steven Smith’s decision to concede the draw four overs early, rather than push to the end to get the final four wickets for victory, drew jeers from spectators at the ground.

Smith justified the decision, saying his bowlers were “cooked” and his team mates happy enough with the series win.

That came after a late declaration at lunch that also raised eyebrows, with Australia’s bowlers given only 70 overs to find a way to bowl India out on a flat wicket offering little help.

“I don’t think there was still a win there,” Smith told reporters.

“I don’t think we had four wickets in us at the end — there wasn’t much breaking up in the wicket, there wasn’t much going on, so I think that was it.”

Australia declared on 318-9, setting India a mammoth 384 to win on a ground where the highest successful run-chase was 332 by England back in 1928/29.

For a time, that appeared more than adequate for the hosts, whose pacemen scythed through India’s top order with three wickets in the first nine overs.

Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan was out lbw for a duck and Lokesh Rahul, surprisingly sent in at number three, was caught  the next over for one after a miscued pull shot.

Opener Murali Vijay was dismissed lbw for 11.

Kohli (54) and Ajinkya Rahane (48) dug in to tea, before Harris had Kohli out with the first ball after the break and  Mitchell Johnson struck to bowl Cheteshwar Pujara for 21.

A jumpy Rahane was out a few overs later, throwing away his wicket for 48 with a horrible pull shot, but Dhoni and Ashwin would survive, though riding their luck at times.

Dhoni never gave a hint of his plans post-match but praised his players for fighting it out.

“We lost early wickets, we put pressure on ourselves and we had to fight it out and overall it’s a good performance by the team.”

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