It has been nearly two years since MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket. These two years have seen his successor Virat Kohli take India to new highs, winning series overseas at home.
Kohli has now led India in 15 Tests, winning eight, losing two and drawing five, four of which were rain-induced. Dhoni, who captained in 60 Tests, winning 27, losing 18 and drawing 15.
These are of course still early days for Kohli but the early signs are encouraging. Dhoni, when he took over the reins in 2008, had the luxury of sheer class in his team. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were still part of the playing XI even as Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble decided to hang up their boots by the time the series against Australia drew to a close.
Indian cricket went through a golden phase thereafter. The Greg Chappell saga was behind the players and Dhoni promised to lead from the front. His presence and repeated brutalities down the order ensured India were forever a dangerous unit.
Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir would blunct attacks upfront, Dravid would lay the foundation, Tendulkar would bury them in a pile of runs before Laxman strode in to exhibit outstanding artistry, paving the way for Dhoni to launch into bowlers, already exhausted and demotivated.
The bowling unit was a crack force too. Zaheer Khan was at his peak and Harbhajan Singh was inevitably among the wickets.
However, Dhoni’s problems started in the English summer of 2011, months after the euphoria of the World Cup triumph at home. The first signs of limitations in an all conquering team had come in a Test series in the West Indies, weeks before India embarked on their British tour – mysteriously, Dhoni’s men did not push for victory at Gros Islet, with not many to get and plenty of wickets at hand. (Dhoni and Kohli are different characters: Glenn McGrath to India Today)