Mahendra Singh Dhoni has declared his retirement from his job as captain of the Indian limited overs side (while still being available for selection as a player). He had retired from Tests (and therefore given up captaincy) during the away tour in Australia in December 2014. He's led India in 60 Tests (27 wins, 15 draws, 18 losses), 199 ODIs (110 wins and 74 losses) and 73 T20Is (41 wins and 28 losses). He was at the helm when India was number one ranked Test side in 2009; led them to your world cup victory in 2011 at home, and gatecrashed the sport as the leader of the T20 side in 2007 winning the inaugural version of WT20.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that his relinquishing of captaincy from all formats for India is the end of an era.
For all of Dhoni's accomplishments as India's captain, his approaches were limited. He was eager to draw on the opponent into a staring contest and had the wherewithals to hold his own more often in not blinking first. He was a master at pushing a match to the last over, to the final run, to the final ball and had the assurance that his ability to handle human frailties of feeling the pressure of the problem would win out over the competitions'.
Dhoni, in his first Test as the full time captain, gave terrific insights directly into his defensive systems to winning Tests. He asked his bowlers to bowl wide of off stump using an 8- in attempting to see whether the Australians would blink, 1 field. Of course, there isn't any shame in using defensive techniques to win a Test, but that was Dhoni's go-to getting something happens, to approach.
He was automatically defensive as a captain, wanting to slow the flow of runs, in the place of aiming for wickets. It can be claimed the bowling resources he had at his disposal all but restrained from attempting anything else, but in precisely the same vein, it can also be asserted that Dhoni's defensive philosophy – of posting perpetual boundary riders and bowling dry to restrain the runs first and foremost – failed to allow his bowlers to be more confident and successful.
His approaches of captaincy served him very well and were in limited overs matches where as the limits of his methods were exposed in the Test arena. Followers of Indian cricket will look back that Dhoni featured in a run chase along with his bat or made moves that pulled the rabbit from the hat. I am sure the World T20 triumph in 2007 where he threw the ball to Joginder Sharma for the closing over would not appear fairly low on the list, as would the utilization of Ishant Sharma in the death in the 2013 Champions Trophy final.
For all the accolades which have come Dhoni's way for Pakistan falling short by 5 runs, it escapes the scrutiny that Pakistan was in with a shot in the closing over facing a no name bowler because India lets go of a situation where Pakistan needed 54 runs off four overs with only three wickets in hand! Dhoni's choice for the 20th over was Harbhajan Singh or Joginder Sharma who had been walloped for three sixes in the 16th over by Misbah. It was a forced move as much as an inspired choice. The line is thin and practically nonexistent.
Ishant started his fourth disastrously and had gone for 11 over but eventually took the wickets of two batsmen that were set and India went to win the trophy.
He responded with a typical impish grin and paused to get an instant Those are my secrets. If I tell you everything now, what will I need to put in my novel when it is written by me?”. I was taking him and though he did not extend that courtesy. That's another facet of Dhoni as a captain that beggared belief, and frustrated in equal quantities together with his requirement for control and holding everything close to his chest. Without Dhoni explaining his choices, I was left with the belief he simply got lucky (unless his publication, whenever that comes out, details otherwise).
Dhoni consistently preferred bowlers who gave him control over the ones that could supply him breakthroughs albeit at higher expense. He always appeared to believe that if he could control the runs, he could control the match. It worked more for him in ODIs and T20s, and also in Tests when he could use bowler like Ravindra Jadeja to tie up one end, but where he couldn't control the run rate when states were such, the dam broke wide open.
Dhoni's calculative head was at its finest in run chases. He is considered the best finisher in limited over games. It was in full view when he shepherded Jack and Number nine, ten to some win over Sri Lanka in the closing of the aforementioned tri-chain. He ended up scoring 45 of the 63 runs that India needed when he came in, for the win. This was Dhoni's staring contest at its finest. When the chances were in his favor, facing an inexperienced Shaminda Eranga he pushed on the contest to the last over. As Eranga began the over with 15 required off the last six balls, there was an air of inevitability. Sure enough, Dhoni wrapped up the game in four balls including a thunderous six that landed on top of the media center. Indian supporters, for quite some time, were used to that feeling in a run chase, when Dhoni was outside in the middle.
Dhoni the batsman, particularly in limited over matches, covered up lots of the want of Dhoni, the captain. He reached exceptional highs as a captain with three important prize triumphs (and marvellous IPL success) that it is simple to be seduced into believing that his captaincy across formats was nearly flawless.
I'm a trained scientist and a practising Engineer. I see the areas of cricket captaincy through those prisms. An engineer's job would be to supply alternatives to problems where as a scientist fundamentally deals with open-ended questions. I realized my forte was in providing solutions to questions with clear answers after spending almost half a decade at attempting to become a scientist.
Dhoni was in his elements as a captain when faced with limited quantity of runs and deliveries, and appeared not to be with it when faced with challenges of Test cricket. He was an Engineer, and not a scientist, as a cricket captain, as he was a damn fine Engineer, the greatest India has had and there's no shame in it.