Parts of the cricketing world woke up to the news that Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is to retire from Tests, a decision effective immediately.
The 33-year-old Dhoni has enjoyed an unprecedented amount of success over all formats of cricket, leading India to No.1 Test status and winning both the T20 and 50-over World Cup wins along with the ICC Champions Trophy.
But heavy defeats to England and now defeat to Australia have led Dhoni to step down from his duties in the longer format. He will remain available for one day internationals and T20 matches, and his records in the shorter form speak for themselves.
Vice captain Virat Kohli will take charge of the Indian side for the fourth Test in Sydney. The 25-year-old Kohli has been talked about as a future leader of India, now is his chance to shine – but he has huge boots to fill.
As for who will be Dhoni’s wicket-keeping replacement there are a few players in the frame: Wriddhiman Saha who deputised in the whitewash of Sri Lanka in the one day series, Sanju Samson who has starred for Rajasthan Royals and of course Parthiv Patel of Royal Challengers Bangalore. Patel once upon a time did keep wicket for India – but then came Dhoni and Patel has never really had a look in since.
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The void left by Dhoni as a captain is huge – and maybe the void left in regards to his skills as a wicketkeeper could be greater. There are a few good candidates there and all of them can bat which is always a bonus – but because Saha is the man ‘in custody’ of the shirt the selectors should favour the 30-year-old for the foreseeable future at least.
Samson is not fully mature and is prone to throw his wicket away – but at 20 is definitely an Indian wicketkeeper of the future. Unfortunately for Patel he is likely to miss out despite rarely putting a foot wrong on the domestic scene.
Very few when Dhoni took over the captaincy from Rahul Dravid in 2007 though that he would be India’s most successful one day captain – but he did just that. He will be hugely missed in the Test arena.