Back in December 2014, MS Dhoni retired from Test cricket passing on his captaincy to Virat Kohli in the longest version of the game. The Indian skipper's decision came in the middle of the Australian tour and amongst many obvious reasons, Dhoni's idea to concentrate on ODIs and T20s was the one that made more sense.
The cricket fraternity, especially the Indian fans, started believing in life without their trusted captain who was eager to focus on the shorter versions to push the Indian cricket team into new horizons. However, ever since his retirement in Tests, Dhoni has lost two ODI and one T20 series while leading the Indian team.
So clearly his decision to retire from Tests to focus on ODIs and T20s is not really working out for India. Dhoni has also come under a lot of fire not just for his skipper abilities but also for his performance with the willow.
India's 2-1 loss against Bangladesh in the ODI series earlier this year had highlighted Dhoni's struggle as a captain, while the recent 2-0 T20 series loss against Proteas only makes the case stronger. On 10 October, former Indian cricketer Ajit Agarkar questioned Dhoni's place in the Indian team and faced a lot of criticism over this on social media.
But the point Agarkar made has been lingering on the minds of Team India fans.
While the selectors might overlook Dhoni's incompetence to get his team over the line, considering that 2016 World T20 is around the corner, here's why Dhoni should consider hanging his boots:
Fading in the role as a finisher
Apart from an impeccable record as Indian captain, MS Dhoni will always be remembered as one of the greatest finishers in modern-day cricket. The right-hander's ability to score under pressure has been one of the most lethal weapons for India in the recent past. But, as all good things come to an end, it seems like Dhoni's ability to provide the final flourish to India in the death overs is also fading away. Dhoni's inability to accelerate the innings for India was clearly visible in the first T20 against South Africa.
India were cruising at 158/1 in 15 overs and looked set for a 200+ total. But, against the popular perception, the hosts could only manage to score 41 runs in the final five overs which clearly made the difference in the end. It was a perfect platform for Dhoni as he generally thrives in such situations, but the Indian captain scored a mere 20 runs as India fell 15-20 runs short of their desired total.
Reputation as captain
MS Dhoni has always been known for backing his instincts when it came to decision-making and also off his own bat. His unique ability to go against the popular perception and make it work has largely helped India in the past. But times have changed and how for Dhoni.
Losing two series, especially in the sub-continent, has hurt Dhoni's reputation as a captain. With the World T20 scheduled next year in India, the selectors will have to make a tough call if the hosts fail to counter South Africa's challenge in the upcoming ODI series which could further dent Dhoni's aura.
Amongst the numerous reasons behind India's recent 0-2 series loss against South Africa, MS Dhoni's iffy decisions also played a crucial role in the outcome. The most baffling decision was the axing of Ajinkya Rahane from the Indian batting order that was already struggling. During the series against Bangladesh in June earlier this year, Dhoni had justified his decision to drop Rahane because of his inability to rotate strike on the slower wickets.
And, in the two T20s against the Proteas, Dhoni still chose to ignore the Mumbai batsman in favour of Ambati Rayudu who registered back-to-back ducks in Dharamsala and Cuttack. Dhoni is known to follow his instincts but in Rahane's case, it seems that the Indian captain got it all wrong. The wickets in Bangladesh might be slower, but the lively track in Dharamsala had both pace and bounce which could have helped Rahane's cause.