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Does MS Dhoni walk away as the greatest ever Indian captain?

MS Dhoni retired from cricket on Saturday and as he walked away, he remained the only captain to win all 3 ICC trophies and the first Indian captain to take India to the top of the ICC Test rankings.

India TV Sports Desk Reported by: India TV Sports Desk New Delhi Updated on: August 16, 2020 12:47 IST
Does MS Dhoni walk away as the greatest ever Indian captain? MS Dhoni retired from cricket on Saturd
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Does MS Dhoni walk away as the greatest ever Indian captain?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's time in international cricket is over and as he walks away, he leaves its patrons with one big question: 'Is MS Dhoni the greatest Indian captain ever?'

The answer over the years has divided opinions. Most say its Sourav Ganguly while some say Kapil Dev but as his career comes to an end, you're forced to give it a second thought. Are they really? 

If numbers are to be looked at, Dhoni's statistics are impressive and achievements unmatched and in that sense, MS is perhaps the best India have ever had. But, the other opinions that come in is that Ganguly took over when Indian cricket was in a turmoil and he showed us how to compete while Kapil Dev will forever be the reason why many Indians started watching cricket. So, why Dhoni ahead of them?

In Dhoni's defence, the first thing that comes to mind is that Dhoni gave India two World Cups. The World T20 in 2007 and the 2011 World Cup back home in India. Dhoni followed it up with a Champions Trophy win in 2013 in England and became the only captain ever to win all three ICC events. 

But, what makes him more special and something that often goes untalked about is the circumstances that he took over the reins of the Indian cricket team. Dhoni was made the captain of a young team after a debacle in the West Indies ahead of Yuvraj Singh and that was a controversy in itself but the man from Ranchi took it in his strides, marshalled the troops and won India the T20 World Cup to breathe new life into the team. The team had very few senior players and Dhoni's achievement was no mean feat. The very next year he conquered Australia Down Under and his exploits in limited-overs cricket was making India a team to be feared and as Anil Kumble walked away, the onus fell on him and now he was the man for all the formats. 

And, Mahi didn't disappoint.

Under him, India got the world No.1 status in 2009 for the first time in their history in December and also won a series in New Zealand. While Ganguly laid the foundation of success in the early 2000s and Dravid followed it up with a win in England in 2007 -- Dhoni took the team a step ahead. Impossible to beat at home and more than competitive away, Dhoni was someone, who assured the upcoming generation that Indian cricket is in good hands and it is going forward.

Many more accolades followed. The famous 2011 World Cup win as well as the numerous IPLs with Chennai Super Kings -- Dhoni's captaincy has always beared fruit. Under Dhoni, India have played 200 ODIs, won 110 and lost 74 and have a win per cent of 59.52. Ganguly comes third behind Mohammad Azharuddin, with a percentage of 53.90 from 146 games, where India have won 76 and lost 65. Kapil Dev is further down at 6th, winning 39 and losing 33 of the 74 games he has captained. In Tests, Dhoni has a win per cent of 45 and is below Ganguly (42.85) while Kapil is above both of them despite having a win per cent of just 11.76 -- thanks to the numerous draws (22 from 34 games).

Dhoni also excelled as a batsman while doing the captain's job. He has scored 6641 runs from 200 matches as captain in ODIs at an average of 53.56 while Ganguly has managed to score 5104 at an average of 38.67 from 147 games. In Tests, Dhoni has scored 3454 runs from 60 matches as captain -- again more than Ganguly and Kapil. 

Dhoni's numbers as captain are bettered by few in world cricket but the number of people who came under his watch also remains a reason why he shouldn't be taken lightly. While Ganguly remains the most productive captain in terms of players produced under a captain's watch, the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane and many more have come into the scheme of things under Dhoni's watch. Kapil, on the other hand, had an experienced side to lead. It takes a lot of guts to lead players with seniors but again Dhoni did that too.

Therefore, Dhoni's contribution overall comes out more productive than the other two. Dhoni definitely carried forward the legacy of Ganguly but what he also did was win accolades, something Ganguly's teams failed to do. Also, Dhoni's contribution in grooming Kohli has to be taken into consideration. Kohli, when he was made the captain in ODIs, struggled to take the right calls and Dhoni was a go-to man and rightly so and two years from then, Kohli looks a different captain altogether and Dhoni does have a role to play as well.

Therefore, Dhoni might not be the most obvious of choices if you don't take numbers and achievements into consideration but overall, Dhoni's contribution to Indian cricket as a captain is as telling as Ganguly's and Kapil's and because of the trophies won...Dhoni might just be the greatest ever till date.

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