Australia whitewash could trigger the end MS Dhoni's India's career

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It goes without saying that Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been a fantastic servant to Indian cricket; with the gloves, with the bat, and unorthodox captaincy.

His reign has seen India enjoy success in every limited-overs tournament and made their own turf a fortress.

We've seen the most successful Indian captain, the man who as won it all; winning a Champions Trophy, the inaugural World Twenty 20 in 2007, the Asia Cup, and to top it all, leading India to the 2011 World Cup in their own backyard.


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He also orchestrated India's rise and brief stay at number one in the Test rankings as well. Intertwined in those highs were many lows as well, in particular, some truly dire performances in overseas Tests.

Amidst the criticism, expectations, and weight of well over a billion people on his shoulders, Dhoni always seemed to maintain a composed temperament, amidst all the successes and failures.

However, in recent times, it has become conspicuous to viewers everywhere that Dhoni is not the same player he used to be.

In terms of his batting, Dhoni was always the one who could dictate terms and control the tempo of an innings at will. He could go from gradual composure to belligerence in the snap of a finger. However, approaching his mid-30s, he does not appear to be able to clear the boundary with the ease that we have seen from him over the years. It's understandable, given that an aging body makes that inevitable.

More importantly, looking at his captaincy and decision-making, it is fair to say that Dhoni has always tended to leave a few scratching their heads with the extent of his unorthodoxy. Sometimes it comes off (Bowling Ishant in the 2013 Champions Trophy triumph and opting for a short-ball tactic in their victory at Lords in 2014), other times it doesn't (such as those 4-0 Test whitewashes away from home).

However, no one can doubt that in the future, Dhoni will always be remembered as an all-time great Indian captain, as amidst those away losses, India has remained as an impregnable force on their own turning wickets.

Nevertheless, in recent times, there has been much cause for concern for Indian fans. Dhoni's decision-making and the reasoning behind it leaves a lot to be desired. His tendency to go on the defensive, as well as his choice of personnel has been India's undoing in recent times.

Looking at the former, Dhoni has shown a sense of sheer passivity, especially overseas, where he would spread his field very early in his opposition's innings, with the intention of damage-limitation instead of attacking.

Granted, India's bowling attack does not ring alarm bells, but nevertheless, the only way to win matches is to at least try to attack and show some faith in his bowlers.

The cruel irony is that while Dhoni chooses to take a safety-first defensive tactic, his team still ends up leaking runs, with batsmen easily running his fielders ragged with singles, and still being able to clear the boundary. The runs are being conceded anyway; it is pointless to just lay back and be passive; why not try and go for wickets?

With regards to personnel, take the Rishi Dhawan conundrum. Dhawan has proven himself as a seaming all-rounder, but Dhoni has publicly stated that it will be difficult to pick Rishi Dhawan.

However, Dhoni has been more than willing to play Stuart Binny, a player with a significantly less impressive record in all forms with bat and ball than Dhawan, not to mention having less pace than Dhawan.

Dhoni even made the bewildering claim that Binny is the best seaming all-rounder in India. In addition to this, there has been the issue with batting Ajinkya Rahane out of position. To Rahane's credit, he has performed admirably and consistently well, but has been unfairly subject to public criticism for having "a lack of versatility".

Under Dhoni's recent limited-overs leadership, on either side of an admirable semi-final attainment at the 2015 World Cup, India lost away to Bangladesh, were winless in the Commonwealth Bank tri-series in Australia, lost at home to South Africa, and now are in the process of being trounced away to Steve Smith's Australia side.

For a side renowned for their ODI credentials, this is simply not good enough. Now that age is not on MS Dhoni's side, and his batting is also undergoing an inevitable slump, alarm bells are becoming increasingly loud vis-à-vis his captaincy and position in the side. Perhaps it is time for a new chapter of Indian cricket.

Shifting the attention from Dhoni, it is clear that Virat Kohli seems to have proven himself as an attacking captain in the Test format, as fans have seen an intrepid, refreshingly attacking style of play from the Indian team under his reigns.

It is fair to say that this would translate into the limited-overs arena as well. Kohli is surely the man to lead India when Dhoni gives up the reigns. Virat is a man who has garnered a polarized opinion due to his aggressive mindset. However, given the frustrating passivity of Dhoni's India in recent times, this aggression is undoubtedly the remedy for their faltering performances.

Kohli, without doubt, being a seasoned campaigner, is clearly the best choice to lead India forward.

Furthermore, there are several talented wicket-keeper batsmen waiting in the wings, namely, Wriddhiman Saha, Sanju Samson, Parthiv Patel, Naman Ojha and Dinesh Karthik among others. While none of the above are at the stratospheric heights of MSD, given Dhoni's age, perhaps it is time to give one or more of them a prolonged go in the side.

It goes without saying that all of the blame does not lie solely on Dhoni's shoulders. The individuals in the team need to perform as well, and they are equally culpable.

Likewise, there is no doubting Dhoni's acumen as a highly successful captain and one of the great wicket-keeper batsmen, alongside Gilchrist as arguably the greatest in ODI history. However, all good things have to come to an end sometime, and perhaps this predominantly memorable decade of Dhoni's leadership is the embodiment of that.

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