On June 23,2011,at Sabina Park,MS Dhoni added the latest feather to his burgeoning cap by overtaking Mohd Azharuddin to become Indias second most successful Test captain. It was also his first appearance since winning the World Cup,four months earlier. That left him just six short of Sourav Gangulys 21. Back then,it only seemed a matter of time before he would reach the summit.
An envious success rate of 60 per cent,a staggering win-loss ratio of 5 (15 wins,3 losses) and a famed Midas touch. Not even the most skeptic of cynics would have imagined that it would take him all of 21 months to eventually get there. Or that a period where Dhoni was expected to be setting a lofty benchmark would rather end up being a tempestuous perdition. A phase during which his success rate would plummet to 35 per cent and his win-loss ratio to 0.7 (7 wins,10 losses). The 0-8 overseas outcome aside,the home series loss to England had in fact ensured the unthinkable. Dhonis incredible captaincy reign was suddenly under serious threat. A few detractors had even dared to gun for his head altogether from the Test squad.
This series against Australia was in a way the first time Dhoni found himself with a point to prove. And if the blazing 224 at Chennai was him producing a redemption song a thrash metal version of it anyway the massive win in Hyderabad would have given Dhoni the captain a lot to cheer about,considering it was fashioned around players (Pujara,Vijay,Ashwin and Jadeja) who feature in his future plans as he looks to stretch his already impressive record.
His maiden tryst with a backs-to-the-wall scenario at home also seems to have brought out his human side. Otherwise renowned for being Captain Cool,now Dhoni doesnt mind berating Ishant Sharma for his tawdry fielding effort or Vijay for not sticking with the relay routine. One that finally punches the air to celebrate a crucial wicket.
(Bharat is a senior correspondent,based in Mumbai) firstname.lastname@example.org